Lawsuit: Politics corrupted prosecution of election software firm’s CEO

by WorldTribune Staff, April 19, 2024

LA County DA George Gascon dropped the criminal charges against Konnech CEO Eugene Yu because he was afraid of appearing to be aligned with former President Donald Trump, according to a complaint filed by the lead prosecutor in the case.

On Wednesday, Eric Neff, a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, filed a lawsuit against Gascon for allegedly improperly dismissing criminal charges against Yu.

Konnech CEO Eugene Yu

In October 2022, Yu was arrested on charges of grand theft and embezzlement of more than $100,000 when investigators found Konnech stored the personal information of Los Angeles County election workers on a server based in communist China in alleged violation of Konnech’s $2.9 million, five-year contract with LA County.

Related: LA prosecutors: Konnech gave China access to ‘astounding’ amount of U.S. voter data, October 18, 2022

Konnech’s PollChief software is designed to manage election-worker payroll, assignments, and communications, and has been used in DeKalb County, Georgia, and Fairfax County, Virginia.

The charging document, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, claimed that a project manager in August “wrote that any employee for Chinese contractors working on PollChief software had ‘superadministration’ privileges for all PollChief clients.”

The project manager reportedly described the decision as a “huge security issue.” He later stressed to workers at the company the “need to ensure the security privacy and confidentiality [of] our client data.”

In November 2022, Gascon dropped the criminal charges against Yu, citing concerns about both the “pace of the investigation” and “potential bias in the presentation” of the charges.”

In his complaint, Neff states that, following Yu’s arrest, Trump had encouraged Gascon in his prosecution of the Konnech CEO. This was apparently concerning to Gascon, who is known for his progressive soft-on-crime policies.

“On or about October 17, 2022, DA Gascon was overwhelmingly concerned that since he had inadvertently gained Mr. Trump’s support, the outlook of such support by prosecuting Mr. Yu would impact his stance and popularity politically,” Neff’s complaint states.

Neff also charges that Gascon retaliated against him after he complained about the dismissal of Yu’s case. Neff was placed on administrative leave for nearly a year-and-a-half and was the subject of an internal investigation, which concluded last month and determined that he did not commit misconduct and would not face disciplinary action.

Neff’s complaint says he suffered “economic damages” and “lost wages,” and that he is seeking “penalties, damages, attorney’s fees, expert fees, and costs as provided by law.”

In January, Los Angeles County approved a $5 million settlement with Yu after he alleged the DA’s office violated his rights in arresting and charging him in the criminal case, harming his reputation and business.

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