3 charged in Flint water crisis

3 charged in Flint water crisis
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Michigan prosecutors have charged three officials with a series of crimes related to the drinking water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality engineer Michael Prysby, DEQ drinking water supervisor Stephen Busch and Flint utility manager Michael Glasgow are accused of manipulating the results of water testing, tampering with evidence and misleading officials about the safety of the city’s water.

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The charges, approved by a judge Wednesday, stem from a months-long investigation by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), the Detroit Free Press reports.

Schuette told reporters Wednesday that the accused workers “failed Michigan families.

He said the investigation is continuing, and more charges could be announced in the future.

“I’ve stated this was the beginning of … the road back to building and restoring trust and confidence of Flint families in their government,” Schuette said. “In Michigan, as I’ve made it abundantly clear, … our system of justice applies to everybody. It’s not rigged. No one is above the law.”

Schuette refused to get into details about what actions the officials are accused of.

He also refused to rule in or out charges for specific people, including Gov. Rick Snyder (R).

Asked whether Snyder is being specifically investigated, Schuette said, “there’s no target, and nobody's off the table.”

Snyder has repeatedly accused state environmental officials of lying to him about the safety of Flint’s water and what was being done about it.

According to the Detroit newspaper, Snyder told reporters Wednesday, “We encouraged the investigations and we’ve been cooperating … let’s wait to hear what the attorney general has to say."

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who represents Flint, said the charges “are one step to bringing justice to Flint families who are the victims of this terrible tragedy.” He renewed his call for further investigations and punishments as necessary.

The three officials charged Wednesday allegedly played a role in the contamination or the slow response to it, the Free Press reported.

The charges include misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, violating treatment or monitoring provisions of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act and willful neglect of office.

They are the first criminal charges related to the crisis after the city, under state supervision, switched its water supply to the Flint River in 2014 as a cost-saving move. But the water wasn't properly treated to travel through lead pipes, and the toxic metal leached into the water supply.

— This post was updated at 1:52 p.m.