Portage mayor seeks dismissal of federal corruption probe

Portage Mayor James Snyder_1523507703631.jpg.jpg

An indicted northwest Indiana mayor has asked a federal judge to dismiss his corruption case because prosecutors viewed dozens of what should have been confidential attorney-client emails.

Portage Mayor James Snyder filed a motion Monday requesting the dismissal of his three-count indictment from 2016. He pleaded not guilty last year to bribery related to city towing vendor and public works contracts, and tax evasion charges related to Snyder’s private business.

The request alleges there are at least 35 emails between Snyder and his defense attorneys that should have been quarantined and not viewed by prosecutors. The motion also alleges Snyder’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when his email accounts were seized.

“It is now beyond dispute, the government’s trial team has admitted it viewed communications that the taint team had previously deemed confidential,” said Jackie Bennett Jr., Snyder’s attorney. “Worse, the subject matter of those privileged communication relates directly to core allegations charged in the indictment.”

The process used to differentiate between privileged emails was “either a failure by the government to endeavor in good faith to analyze whether certain communications were constitutionally protected, or a negligent or incompetent failure to have done so,” the filing said.

Snyder had previously asked for the prosecution team’s dismissal. Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen hasn’t yet ruled on whether new prosecutors should take over the case.

Van Bokkelen said at a March hearing that the emails looked routine and none appeared to be privileged.

“There’s no smoking guns,” Van Bokkelen said.

Snyder’s trial is set for June 4.

Snyder is a Republican who was elected to his second term as Portage mayor in 2015.

The Democratic former sheriff of neighboring Lake County, John Buncich, was sentenced in January to more than 15 years in prison for a related case of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from towing businesses.

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