Ex-governor’s phone seized in Flint water probe
LANSING (AP) — Authorities investigating Flint’s water crisis have used search warrants to seize from storage the state-owned mobile devices of former Gov. Rick Snyder and 65 other current or former officials, The Associated Press has learned.
The warrants were sought two weeks ago by the attorney general’s office and signed by a Flint judge, according to documents the AP obtained through public records requests.
Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is helping with the probe, confirmed they executed a series of search warrants related to the criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water in 2014-15 and a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
The water crisis in Flint was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. Untreated water leached lead from pipes and into Flint’s homes and businesses while cost-cutting financial managers — appointed by Snyder — were running the city.
The investigation has led to charges against 15 current or former government officials, including two who served in the Cabinet of Snyder, a Republican who left office in December. But no one is behind bars, and some Flint residents believe key players who could have prevented the lead debacle are getting off easy.
“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,” Hammoud said in a statement Monday following the AP’s reporting. “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.”
One warrant, signed May 19, lists all content from Snyder’s state-issued cellphone, iPad and computer hard drive. Similar information was sought from the devices of 33 employees who worked in his office, 11 in the Department of Environmental Quality and 22 in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The evidence was apparently initially obtained by former special prosecutor Todd Flood with investigative subpoenas. Because it has been kept in a division of the attorney general’s office, Hammoud took the unusual step of securing a warrant to search another part of the office. She has been managing the probe since January.
“We’re doing everything we can to comply,” said Dan Olsen, a spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.