Additional charges could be forthcoming.
Prosecutors said the state Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services manipulated and altered reports about lead contamination in the drinking water. Investigators were still working their way up the chain of command.
With the latest round of charges, a total of nine current and former state and local officials face counts ranging from willful neglect of duty to conspiracy over allegations they withheld information from the public about lead contamination in the city’s drinking water.
“The families of Flint will not be forgotten,” Schuette said at a news conference. “We will provide the justice they deserve. And in Michigan, the justice system is not rigged. There is one system of justice. The laws apply to everyone, equally, no matter who you are.”
‘Treated as expendable’
One of the highest-ranking officials charged Friday is Liane Shekter-Smith, former chief of the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She is charged with one count of misconduct in office and one count of willful neglect of duty.
The two other Department of Environmental Quality workers are water quality analyst Adam Rosenthal, who faces charges of misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty, tampering with evidence and conspiracy-tampering with evidence; and Patrick Cook, community drinking water unit specialist, who is charged with willful neglect of duty, misconduct in office and conspiracy.
The source identified the state Department of Health and Human Services workers as Corinne Miller, former director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and State Epidemiologist; Nancy Peeler, director of the for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; and Robert Scott, data manager for the Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention Program. They each face one count of misconduct in office, one count of conspiracy, and one count of willful neglect of duty.
Shekter-Smith’s attorney, Brian Morley, declined comment. Attorneys for the others were not immediately available.
When Schuette in April announced charges against three other officials, residents called for more arrests.
Friday’s charges stem from his long investigation of a crisis that began to unfold in spring 2014 when the state opted to switch the source of the city’s water.
“The victims are real people, families who have been lied to by government officials and been treated as expendable,” Schuette said. “But when our investigation is completed and our prosecutions are successful — and we believe they will be — then accountability and justice will be delivered to families of Flint and families of Michigan.”
What is the crisis?
Two years ago, in a move to save money, the state switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a tributary notorious for its filth
. The Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the corrosive water, which ate into the city’s iron and lead pipes, causing lead to leach into the drinking water.
Last year, researchers and medical personnel discovered high levels of lead in Flint residents
, especially children. Lead has been tied to a host of medical problems, especially in the nervous system.
It’s a massive public health crisis that has drawn national attention, and there’s plenty of blame to go around. Already one group of investigators has concluded that government at every single level failed Flint
Who has been charged so far?
City employee Mike Glasgow and state employees Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby.
Busch, a district water supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Prysby, a district water engineer, each face six charges.
Accusations include misleading federal regulatory officials, manipulating water sampling and tampering with reports. Busch and Prysby have pleaded not guilty.
Glasgow reached a plea deal on other charges. Continue reading . . .