Emails from former North Dakota attorney general found 2 years after being deleted

Emails from former North Dakota attorney general found 2 years after being deleted

Emails from the deleted account of the late North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem have been discovered, his successor has said.

The emails, once believed to have been deleted forever, were downloaded last summer to a computer at the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Attorney General Drew Wrigley told The Forum on Monday, March 4.

Data from Stenehjem’s phone was copied to the computer automatically when Stenehjem’s wife asked that the BCI, which Stenehjem oversaw, unlock his personal cellphone after the former attorney general died in early 2022, Wrigley said.

The phone wasn’t unlocked and copied to the computer until mid-2023, Wrigley said. The BCI realized last month that the data was copied, he added.

A federal search warrant for the phone was secured as part of a federal criminal investigation into former state Sen. Ray Holmberg, Wrigley said.

“Agents are now in the process of evaluating that phone in the furtherance of that investigation,” Wrigley said.

Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, is accused of traveling abroad to have sex with minors, as well as receiving or trying to receive child sex abuse material. Holmberg was indicted in October 2023. He has denied the accusations.

If criminal evidence is found on the phone, that evidence would have to be disclosed to Holmberg’s defense attorney, Mark Friese.

“I’ve not been provided with copies of the emails yet, so I can’t comment,” Friese said.

Stenehjem was designated as a witness in Holmberg’s case, Wrigley revealed Monday, noting that federal agents interviewed Stenehjem regarding the Holmberg investigation.

Once the review of the phone is over, the emails will become public record, Wrigley added. It’s unclear when that could happen.

“I’m not able today to comply with and be responsive to the open records requests with regard to those emails, but we have them stored,” he said, adding all the open records requests “will be honored.”

You can read the full article at Inforum.