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Los Angeles County to pay $5 million to election official wrongly accused of data breach

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

Los Angeles County agreed to pay $5 million to the top executive of an election software company who was arrested and charged in 2022 with mishandling voter data in a case that prosecutors dropped weeks later late, the executive lawyer said this week.

This payment, which ends a lawsuit filed last year, is a new twist for Eugene Yu, 66, co-founder of the software company Konnech.

Mr. Yu and his company faced a barrage of right-wing conspiracy theories after the 2020 election, including that Michigan-based Konnech had stored election data in China. Mr. Yu has repeatedly denied sending data to China, including in a New York Times article about false claims in coverage of disinformation and elections.

Los Angeles prosecutors then arrested Mr. Yu, raiding his home and workplace. They accused him of embezzlement of public funds by storing election worker data in China, a violation of his contract with the county, as well as conspiracy to commit a crime. Right-wing media outlets highlighted the arrest as proof that allegations of widespread election interference were true.

Five weeks later, the prosecutor dropped the charges against him, citing fears of “potential bias in the presentation” of evidence.

Mr. Yu sued Los Angeles County Last year, claiming the arrest cost Mr. Yu and Konnech more than $80 million in lost business and other damages. His lawyers called the arrest “politically motivated” and “based solely on completely false conspiracy theories about Chinese election interference” in a statement announcing the trial.

As part of the lawsuit settlement, the prosecutor’s office will not file charges against Mr. Yu. The office and Mr. Yu will also ask a judge to find factual innocence, according to Mr. Yu’s lawyer.

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The prosecutor’s office never clarified whether the company actually stored data in China. The office and Los Angeles County did not respond to questions about the decision.

Gary S. Lincenberg, who represented Mr. Yu at his criminal trial, said, “Mr. Yu. Yu should never have suffered from his wrongful arrest, the loss of his business, or the tarnishing of his good reputation.

“But the settlement in his favor,” Mr. Lincenberg added, “represents a measure of recompense for the harm caused to him by the wrongful prosecution.”