Matt DePerno, the Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general last year, was arraigned on Tuesday on four charges related to a bizarre scheme aimed at proving President Trump’s 2020 election theft claims.
The criminal court docket for Oakland County, Michigan shows that DePerno faces one count of undue possession of a voting machine, one count of willfully damaging a voting machine, one count of conspiracy to unduly possess a voting machine, and one count of conspiracy to access a computer system without authorization.
Daire Rendon, a former Michigan Republican state legislator, was also arraigned on Tuesday, the docket shows. She faces one count of conspiracy to unduly possess a voting machine, and one count of false pretenses with intent to defraud.
The Detroit News first reported the charges; the Oakland County court administrator confirmed the arraignments to the outlet. DePerno’s name is incorrectly spelled “DeParno” in the online docket.
DePerno attorney Paul Stablein provided a statement to TPM in which the former AG candidate said that the charges had been brought “improperly” and were “motivated primarily by politics rather than evidence.”
“He categorically denies any wrongdoing and firmly asserts that these charges are unfounded and lack merit,” the statement reads, adding later: “He is confident that justice will prevail, and he looks forward to the date when his innocence will be demonstrated in a court of law.”
Camila Barkovic, an attorney for Rendon, also did not return TPM’s request for comment.
A special counsel, Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson, has been investigating the vote machine tampering scheme.
DJ Hilson said in a statement that “this process is still ongoing and not over.”
He emphasized that the case was brought by a grand jury, whose decision “was not influenced by politics, bias, or prejudice.”
Before DePerno ran unsuccessfully against current Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) last year, his claim to fame consisted in filing lawsuits in the state seeking to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory there in the 2020 election. The New York Times reported last year that Trump told a Michigan state lawmaker to support DePerno’s efforts.
But it wasn’t until last year that DePerno’s name surfaced in allegations around a series of voting machine breaches in several counties in Michigan which took place in 2021.
Nessel requested last year that a special counsel be appointed to investigate DePerno and a group of Trump supporters who allegedly took control of voting machines in the state in order to run their own analysis proving the long-sought (and extremely chimerical) fraud which, they believed, marred the 2020 election.
Per documents that Nessel submitted in support of the request to appoint a special prosecutor, DePerno worked with others to trick county election clerks into handing over voting machines. As part of the scheme, an unnamed state legislator allegedly called the Michigan election clerks in early 2021 with a request: could they hand over the voting machines for investigation?
According to a petition that Nessel filed last year which names DePerno and Rendon, the group managed to acquire five voting tabulators this way. They then allegedly took the machines to hotels and AirBnBs in Oakland County, a suburb of Detroit, where the charges were brought on Tuesday. The petition also names Stefanie Lambert Juntilla, a pro-Trump attorney, who said on a right-wing podcast last week that she had been indicted.
Juntilla told TPM last week that the case was a “malicious prosecution” and that her attorney had been informed that she faced charges of undue possession of a tabulator.
The group allegedly printed fake ballots to be run through the tabulators as “tests.” Others, including Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, appear in Nessel’s petition. Prosecutors have also said that they’re investigating the involvement of the leaders of Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by the Arizona state senate to “audit” the state’s election.