Los Angeles County pays $5 million to elections executive wrongly accused of data breach
Los Angeles County has agreed to pay $5 million to the top executive of an elections software company who was arrested and charged with mishandling voter data in 2022, the executive's lawyer said this week. Was removed after a few weeks.
The payment, which settles a lawsuit filed last year, is another turn of events for Eugene Yu, 66, co-founder of software company Connacht.
Mr. Yu and his company faced right-wing conspiracy theories after the 2020 election that Connacht, based in Michigan, had stored election data in China. Mr Yu repeatedly denied sending the data to China, including in an article by The New York Times about misinformation and false claims as part of its coverage of the elections.
Los Angeles prosecutors later arrested Mr. Yu after raiding his home and workplace. They accused him of embezzling public funds by storing poll worker data in China, violating his contract with the county, as well as conspiring to commit a crime. Right-wing media cited the arrest as evidence that claims of widespread election interference were true.
Five weeks later, the district attorney dropped the charges, citing concerns of “potential bias in the presentation” of evidence.
Mr. Yu sued Los Angeles County Last year, claiming that the arrest caused Mr. Yu and Konech to lose more than $80 million in business and other damages. His lawyers, in a news release announcing the lawsuit, described the arrest as “politically motivated” and “based entirely on completely false conspiracy theories about Chinese election interference.”
As part of the settlement of the lawsuit, the District Attorney's Office will not bring charges against Mr. Yu. According to Mr. Yu's lawyer, the office and Mr. Yu will also petition a judge for a finding of factual innocence.
The district attorney's office never clarified whether the company actually stored the data in China. The office and Los Angeles County did not respond to questions about the decision.
Gary S. Linsenberg, who represented Mr. Yu at his criminal trial, said, “Mr. Yu should never have suffered a wrongful arrest, loss of business or having his good reputation tarnished.”
“But the settlement in his favor,” Mr. Linsenberg said, “represents a measure of compensation for the wrongs done to him by the wrongful prosecution.”