Snyder’s cell phone, iPad seized amid Flint water crisis investigation

Rick Snyder, 2012 | Michigan Municipal League, Flickr

Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office obtained and used search warrants to seize mobile devices used by GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder related to the ongoing Flint water crisis investigation.

Dana Nessel after a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Feb. 19, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Nessel’s office released the warrants to the Michigan Advance Monday after the Associated Press first obtained them in an open records request. The warrants were signed two weeks ago by a Flint judge and show that investigators asked for Snyder’s former state-owned cell phone, iPad and computer hard drive.

The May 19 warrant allowed investigators to comb through call history lists, text messages, pictures, audio files, emails, instant messaging and other data, including calendars and GPS directions and comes after a federal judge in April added Snyder back as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis.

Investigators requested similar information from electronic devices operated by 33 employees who worked in the then-Department of Environmental Quality or the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Department of Attorney General through the Flint water criminal prosecution team is investigating the Flint water crisis as a whole,” said Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud in a statement.

“As stated in recent motions, the prosecution is aware of substantial potential evidence that was not provided to the original prosecution team from the onset of the investigation,” she continued. “The team is currently in the process of obtaining this evidence through a variety of means, including search warrants. The team is also conducting a thorough review of existing and newly received evidence pertaining to the Flint water crisis.”

Fadwa Hammoud

Nessel appointed Hammoud to lead the ongoing investigation in January. Her office later fired former Flint water crisis Special Prosecutor Todd Flood — who led the probe under former Attorney General Bill Schuette — after 23 boxes of evidence were found in a government building basement, her office announced in late April.

It’s not immediately clear whether those boxes contained this evidence. Flood had originally obtained the evidence requested by Nessel’s office through investigative subpoenas, AP reported.

Hammoud then obtained the evidence through a search warrant to a division within the attorney general’s office.

Brian Lennon, an attorney representing Snyder, declined to comment.

Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein covers the governor’s office, criminal justice and the environment. Before that, he wrote about state government and politics for the Detroit News, the Associated Press and MIRS News and won a Society of Professional Journalism award for open government reporting. He studied philosophy at Michigan State University, where he wrote for both The State News and Capital News Service. He began his journalism career freelancing for The Sturgis Journal, his hometown paper.

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