HOUSTON (CN) — Counsel for a Texas voter fraud conspiracy group, in open court Thursday, reluctantly provided the name of a man who set off an FBI investigation into a software company’s compromised U.S. poll worker data.
Eugene Yu, CEO and founder of Konnech Inc., a Michigan election logistics software purveyor, was supposed to be at a hearing Thursday in Houston federal court for his company’s lawsuit against True the Vote, a Texas nonprofit that backs Donald Trump’s claims voter fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election.
But Yu was in Michigan working out a bail agreement following his arrest Tuesday “on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information” by investigators with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, with help from local police.
According to District Attorney George Gascón, Konnech has a contract with LA County that mandates it keep election worker information on secure servers in the United States, and a probe by his office found probable cause to believe Konnech was storing the data on servers in China.
Yu’s bail deal stipulates he must report to LA County by Oct. 14 to face charges.
Konnech’s software helps local governments manage poll workers and coordinate allocation of equipment, it has nothing to do with counting ballots, the company says.
With Yu arranging his surrender, Konnech’s attorney Dean Pamphilis was in a hearing at the Houston federal courthouse explaining he believes Yu was wrongfully arrested because LA County prosecutors say Konnech stole information about poll workers, but the county itself gave Konnech that data.
If Konnech did err by storing the data on Chinese servers, that’s a contract issue, said Pamphilis, who revealed he has yet to see Yu’s sealed indictment.
“It appears Yu was arrested because of a breach of contract by Konnech,” Pamphilis told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, adding that the district attorney noted there is no evidence Konnech tried to sell the poll workers’ data, which may include their names, addresses and Social Security numbers.
The provenance of the data is at the center of Konnech’s lawsuit against True the Vote, its founder Catherine Engelbrecht and board member Gregg Phillips, in which it makes claims of defamation, tortious interference, conversion and violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
According to the lawsuit, Phillips admitted on an Aug. 23 podcast he had targeted Konnech’s server with a group of hackers.
“Phillips described meeting his ‘guys’ at a hotel room in Dallas, where they put ‘towels under the doors’ like ‘some kind of a James Bond kind of thing,’ and proceeded to hack into a Konnech server,” the complaint states.
True the Vote’s counsel, Brock Akers of Houston, told a different tale at Thursday’s hearing.
He said the data — which True the Vote alleges includes the personal information of 1.8 million U.S. poll workers — was obtained by an independent contractor who is not part of True the Vote, and the man contacted Phillips and informed him he had “come across” the information.
Akers said Phillips realized the data presented serious national security concerns and told the FBI about it and introduced the contractor to the FBI.
“What reason do you believe Phillips verified any of this data was coming from China?” Hoyt asked Akers.
“What Phillips told me he saw,” Akers replied.
“And you don’t have any sworn statement from Phillips saying this is a person he could vouch for? … You don’t know if the man really got the data from China,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt signed a temporary restraining order on September 12, ordering True the Vote, Engelbrecht and Phillips to return all data obtained from Konnech’s password protected computers, to identify each person involved in accessing them, and to identify each person they know of who has had possession of any information or data from Konnech’s computers.