The State Attorney General’s Office appears to have been dealt a major blow in its case against Western New York political operative Steve Pigeon. State Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio has ruled that email evidence in the case should be suppressed moving forward.

Pigeon is accused of nine felonies associated with allegedly bribing a state Supreme Court judge. The judge, John Michalek, has already pleaded guilty.

On May 27, 2015, federal and state investigators executed search warrants at Pigeon’s condo and the homes of two other men. As part of the raid, investigators asked Google to deliver Pigeon’s emails.

Judge Cerio agreed with the defense that although the search warrants were delivered to Google within the 10-day window allowed by the state, law enforcement was not able to examine the emails until at least 22 days after the warrants were executed.

“While the courts have found that undue delay in filing the return with the court is a ministerial act which will not effect the integrity of the warrant, the execution of the warrant within the prescribed time period is strictly construed,” Cerio wrote in his decision.

The judge said in order to avoid the situation, investigators could have gotten an extension. He said the court had no issue with the time prosecutors have taken in analyzing the records.

“It is the finding of this court that the People acted in good faith at all times with respect to the analysis of the defendant’s email records. However, the issue is not with respect to how long the process of analysis took place or whether the People acted in good faith but, rather, when the information was actually received from Google by state law enforcement with respect to the warrants at issue,” Cerio wrote.

The judge had previously ruled against Pigeon’s attorney, Paul Cambria, on this decision but changed his ruling only after deciding to allow the defendant to re-argue the decision. It is unclear what the impact on the case which is set to go to trial in September.

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision regarding this technical issue and will soon determine how to best move this important prosecution forward. We appreciate the court stating that our office has proceeded in good faith at all times on this matter,” AG spokesperson Amy Spitalnick said.

Cambria would only say he believes the judge made the right decision and he is now waiting for Schneiderman’s office to decide how to move forward.

Pigeon Emails by Ryan Whalen on Scribd