Polling software CEO given bond, deadline to surrender in LA

Audacy - The Associated Press

The founder and CEO of a Michigan software company targeted by election deniers accused of stealing data on hundreds of Los Angeles County poll workers has been ordered to report to California authorities by the end of next week.

Konnech Corp,s Eugene Yu, 51, was arrested in Meridian Township in Michigan on Tuesday and a 55th District Court official initially ordered him to remain in jail until an extradition hearing. Judge Donald Allen on Thursday granted Yu's request for a $1 million bond but ordered him to wear a GPS tether, give his passport to Michigan authorities and surrender to Los Angeles authorities by Oct. 14.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday that Yu was being held on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information, while computer hard drives and other “digital evidence” were seized by the DA's investigators.

Konnech is a small company based in East Lansing, Michigan. In 2020, it won a five-year, $2.9 million contract with LA County for software to track election worker schedules, training, payroll and communications, according to the county registrar-recorder/county clerk, Dean C. Logan.

Konnech was required to keep the data in the United States and only provide access to citizens and permanent residents but instead stored it on servers in the People’s Republic of China, the Los Angeles DA’s office said.

The DA’s office didn’t specify what information allegedly was taken. But officials said it only involved poll workers, not voting machines or vote counts and didn’t alter election results.

Konnech in a statement issued Tuesday said “any LA County poll worker data that Konnech may have possessed was provided to it by LA County, and therefore could not have been ‘stolen’ as suggested." The statement also called Yu's arrest “wrongful detention.”

Mark Kriger, the attorney who represented Yu in court in Michigan on Thursday, said Konnech's director of information technology has consistently said the company never stored data outside the U.S.

The New York Times reported Monday that Konnech and Yu, who was born in China, became the target of claims by election conspiracy theorists that the company had secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party and had supplied information on 2 million poll workers.

There wasn’t any evidence to support those claims, but Yu received threats and went into hiding, the paper said.

Konnech has contracts with Allen County, Indiana, and DeKalb County in Georgia, the Times said.

Kriger said Thursday that its clients also include St. Louis County and California's Alameda County and San Francisco County. Konnech's website said the company has 32 clients in North America.