Michigan Officials Charged In Flint Water Crisis

by
Reuters
Three Michigan state and local officials were criminally charged on Wednesday in connection with the state attorney general's investigation into dangerous lead levels in Flint's drinking water.

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Three Michigan state and local officials were criminally charged on Wednesday in connection with the state attorney general's investigation into dangerous lead levels in Flint's drinking water, a crisis that has fueled widespread public outrage.

Genesee District Judge Tracy Collier-Nix authorized charges against Flint employee Michael Glasgow and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby.

Glasgow, 40, was charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty, according to court documents. The first charge is related to when he allegedly changed testing results to show there was less lead in city water than there actually was.

Busch, 40, and Prysby, 53, were each charged with six counts, including misconduct in office, tampering with evidence and violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, according to court documents. Busch, a district manager in the drinking water division, was previously suspended.

The three people charged could not immediately be reached for comment.

Dena Altheide, a court administrator, said no court dates or arraignments have been set yet. A spokeswoman for the Michigan attorney general, who has scheduled a Wednesday afternoon news conference to make an announcement related to its probe of the crisis, would neither confirm nor deny the charges.

Attorney General Bill Schuette in January named a special prosecutor to lead a team to probe whether criminal charges should be filed in the water crisis.

In February, former Wayne County prosecutor Todd Flood, who has led the probe, said his team would look at what possible crimes were committed in the crisis.

Flint, a city of about 100,000 people, was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 when it switched its source of water from Detroit's municipal system to the Flint River to save money. The city switched back in October.

The river water was more corrosive than the Detroit system's and caused more lead to leach from its aging pipes. Lead can be toxic and children are especially vulnerable. The crisis has prompted lawsuits by parents who say their children are showing dangerously high blood levels of lead.

"The criminal charges against MDEQ officials are one step towards justice for the families of Flint who were poisoned as a result of the actions of Governor (Rick) Snyder’s administration," U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, said in a statement.

Cummings and other House Democrats have called for Snyder to step down because of the state's poor handling of the crisis, something the governor has said he will not do.

The Detroit News, citing a source, said more indictments would be filed.