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Former Flint Emergency Manager due in court Friday

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A former Flint emergency manager is scheduled to appear in a courtroom Friday.

Darnell Earley oversaw Flint city hall during the city’s disastrous drinking water switch to the Flint River in April 2014. 

He’s among 15 current and former government officials criminally charged in connection with the Flint water crisis.

Darnell Earley has been waiting for his preliminary hearing to begin for more than a year. Earley and former Flint public works director Howard Croft face a variety of charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

They were originally indicted in 2016 on charges related to a loan that prosecutors claim was obtained by the city under "false pretenses."   

In 2014, the city of Flint was in financial distress, it was not permitted to borrow money unless it could prove a significant emergency.

Prosecutors say the defendants allegedly used the Home Rule City Act emergency bond clause to borrow money to pay for Flint’s portion of the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline. The clean-up of a lime sludge lagoon was cited as the reason to get a state waiver for the bonds.

Two other government officials are also charged in connection to the loan.

Former Flint utilities director Daugherty Johnson cut a plea deal which spared him from the felony “false pretenses” charges, in exchange for his cooperation.

Former Emergency Manager Gerry Ambrose waived his preliminary hearing. There’s speculation that Ambrose may also be cutting a deal with prosecutors.

Of the 15 state and local government officials criminally charged in the Flint water investigation, four have cut plea deals with prosecutors.

Preliminary hearings have been underway for seven defendants since last fall.

Two defendants are still waiting to have their preliminary hearings to be scheduled.

Judges will decide if there is enough evidence against 10 defendants to send the charges to trial. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.