Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette announced today that prosecutors are seeking to prosecute three government officials who are alleged to have been involved in decisions leading to the contamination of drinking water in Flint with toxic levels of lead. Earlier reports suggested that as many as four individuals would face state prosecution.
When city officials switched from sourcing drinking water from Lake Huron (supplied by Detroit) to water taken from the Flint River in 2014, residents soon began to complain of foul smells and taste. It was not until 2015 when a local physician determined, despite disavowals by authorities, that toxic levels of lead were present that the beleaguered city reverted back to the original source of water.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has blamed all levels of government while leftists and other activists have called for his resignation over accusations of mismanagement at the state level. The federal government and the state government are committing millions of dollars for free distribution of water and filters, as well as removing lead water service pipes that have been traced to the contamination. Multiple lawsuits have been filed, but until now no criminal prosecutions had emerged.
The contamination has also been linked to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, which claimed the lives of at least 12 people.
Michael Prysby of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is facing two counts of misconduct, two counts of tampering with evidence and two counts of violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Act. Also facing prosecution by the Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton is Stephen Busch of Michigan’s DEQ. Busch is looking at several counts including one count of misconduct, two counts of tampering with evidence and two counts of violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Act. The state of Michigan will pick up the tab for the criminal defense of the above two individuals.
The only local official currently facing prosecution is Michael Glasgow, Flint Water Plant Certified Operator. He has two counts coming at him, including tampering with evidence and willful neglect. He is allegedly to have signed off on a document stating that Flint homes that were used to test tap water for lead had lead service lines, which was determined to be false. Allegations suggest records were changed in order to cover up positive test results for lead.