FORNEY, Texas — Last month, the City of Forney was delivered a notice to retain and preserve records in regard to pending Texas Rangers criminal investigations, according to records obtained by inForney.com today.
The "Notice for Retention and Preservation of Documents, Electronic Data, and Tangible Things" was hand delivered to City of Forney Attorney Jon Thatcher on April 9, 2021, and was addressed and signed by Kaufman County Criminal District Attorney Erleigh Wiley.
"You are receiving this letter because representatives and/or employees of The City of Forney may have received communication regarding pending criminal investigations," reads the notice, in part. "Further, representatives and/or employees of The City of Forney may have access to physical evidence, and/or audio-visual evidence regarding the pending investigations."
"The purpose of this letter is to place The City of Forney on notice that there is a pending investigation by the Texas Rangers into potential criminal offenses related to The City of Forney's dealings with and termination of former Forney Police Department Chief of Police Mica Lunt," continued the notice.
In February 2021, Lunt filed an official grievance against then-City Manager Anthony "Tony" Carson alleging a pattern of improper and hostile working conditions — allegations a number of current and former employees, including from previous cities where Carson worked, have come forward and corroborated.
Just over a month after filing that grievance, and Carson's move to promote then-Operations Director Neil Cardwell to Deputy City Manager overseeing the Forney Police Department, Forney Fire Department, and the Forney Economic Development Cooperation, Lunt was placed on administrative leave. He was terminated the next day.
The City of Forney and its representatives were ordered to immediately suspend their normal retention and destruction policies for documents, electronic data, and tangible things and must preserve and retain those items relating to the occurrences or transactions defined within the letter, it states.
"The failure to preserve and retain this information may constitute spoliation of evidence," states the notice.
"The Kaufman County District Attorney's Office hereby demands that The City of Forney preserve all documents, tangible things, and electronically stored information potentially relevant to any issues in this matter," the notice provides in detail on the City of Forney's responsibilities to preserve and retain the records.
In addition to the demands within the notice to suspend normal retention and destruction policies, the notice also states the City of Forney must also immediately "take affirmative steps to prevent anyone with access to documents, electronic data, and tangible things relating to The City of Forney's dealings with and termination of former Forney Police Department Chief Mica Lunt from hiding, modifying, or destroying them."
Email communications between the city's attorney, Carson, and the Forney City Council were withheld from an inForney.com open records request and sent to the Texas Attorney General's Office for an Open Records Decision seeking to withhold its disclosure.