Genesee County prosecuting attorney David Leyton filed criminal charges today (April 20) for three government officials whose actions allegedly led to poisonous water being pumped into the homes of Flint’s predominantly Black residents. They are the first people to be charged in connection with the Flint water crisis.
- Stephen Busch, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality district coordinator for Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance: misconduct in office (felony), tampering with evidence (felony), conspiracy to tamper with evidence (felony), engaging in a treatment violation that violates Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor), engaging in a monitoring violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor). He allegedly lied to federal, state and county officials; conspired to manipulate monitoring reports; tampered with a 2015 report called “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result”; failed to mandate corrosion control treatment; an manipulated water samples for testing.
- Mike Prysby, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality district engineer: two charges of misconduct in office (felonies), tampering with evidence (felony), conspiracy to tamper with evidence (felony), engaging in a treatment violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor), engaging in a monitoring violation that violates the Michigan’ Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor). He is accused of the same crimes as Busch, plus the state says he authorized a permit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant despite knowing it was not proving safe water.
- Mike Glasgow, Flint laboratory and water quality supervisor: tampering with evidence (felony), willful neglect of office (misdemeanor). He allegedly tampered with the 2015 report mentioned above and failed to properly perform his duties.
District judge Tracy Collier-Nix authorized the charges this morning. Per CNN:
[Prysby’s felony misconduct] charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The maximum penalties allowed for the other charges against Busch and Prysby are five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the misconduct count, four years and $10,000 for the conspiracy count, four years and $5,000 for the tampering count, and one year each for the Safe Drinking Water Act violations. The latter also carry $5,000 fines for each day the accused were found to be in violation of the act.
Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette held a press conference following the announcement. “They failed Michigan families. Indeed, they failed us all. I don’t care where you live,” Schuette said.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 20, 2016
But many feel that the charges don’t go far enough up the chain of command. Governor Rick Snyder has faced criticism that his office knew Flint residents were drinking and bathing in and cooking with lead-tainted water since April 2014 when the city’s water supply was changed to save money, but told them it was safe.
“I won’t rest until the governor is charged. It was his person who pushed the change of water supply through and he knew there were problems, but did nothing,” Nakiya Wakes said told CNN. “We are still suffering here. And his higher-ups in this mess need to be held responsible, too.”