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Here’s the latest on the officials facing charges for the Flint water crisis

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
The Flint water treatment plant

It has been five years since Flint’s water supply was switched, and the Flint water crisis began.

Since then, fifteen officials involved with the incident have been charged. The investigation has been active since 2015.

With many scheduled dates in court pushed back, here is an update on where those individuals are and where their cases currently stand:

MDEQ employees charged

Liane Shekter-Smith was the former Chief of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance. She was responsible for overseeing Flint’s water system for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Last update: January 7th, 2019

She allegedly knew about the possibilities of Legionnaires’ disease and did not notify the public. She also allegedly misled officials about the evidence.

On January 7, 2019, Shekter-Smith pleaded no contest to disturbance of a lawful meeting in order to dismiss her other charges. She also testified that she discovered an “uptick” of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County way back in October 2014.

Stephen Busch was the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Water Supervisor for Lansing.

Last update: December 26, 2019

Busch pleaded no contest to disturbance in a public building, referring to a January 2015 meeting where Flint residents expressed concerns about their water.

"Because of Mr. Busch's failure to address those concerns adequately, the meeting became extremely boisterous, and in fact it had to be ended prematurely," Attorney Mark Kriger said to the judge.

Busch will be placed on probation for a year and his charges will be dismissed due to his cooperation. He will also be testifying against former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon — who is facing involuntary manslaughter charges.

Michael Prysby was the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 Water Supervisor.

Last update: December 26, 2019

Among other charges, Prysby allegedly approved Flint's water before it was properly tested and misled EPA officials about the water system. He also allegedly encouraged falsifying mandated reports about the water and pushed unofficial water tests out to the public.

He pleaded no contest to a count under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, as he issued permits for the Flint Water Treatment Plant in April 2014 before it was ready for public usage. He agreed to testify that Flint water was distributed before being properly tested and that the decision was made by state-appointed emergency managers.

The 15 people charged in the Flint water crisis so far.
Credit Booking photos from the Michigan AGs office and others.
Top row: Michael Prysby, Mike Glasgow, Daughtery Johnson, Darnell Earley, Robert Scott. Middle row: Nick Lyon, Liane Shekter-Smith, Adam Rosenthal, Nancy Peeler, Gerald Ambrose. Bottom row: Stephen Busch, Howard Croft, Corrine Miller, Eden Wells, Pat Cook.

Patrick Cook was a specialist for the DEQ's Community Drinking Water Unit.

Last update: April 15th, 2019

Along with approving the water for the Flint treatment plant, Cook allegedly did not notify the public or try to correct the situation once the water system was discovered to be inadequate.

Cook is charged with willful neglect of duty, misconduct in office, and conspiracy. He was scheduled to appear in court this past Tuesday — but the trial was pushed back after an attorney got sick.

Adam Rosenthal was a DEQ Water Quality Analyst.

Last update: January 16th, 2017.

Rosenthal allegedly altered a federally mandated report on Flint’s water. He was also accused of knowing that the Flint water treatment plant was not ready to test water and that there was a problem with the system.

Rosenthal pleaded no contest to the public record claim and was issued a misdemeanor deal. His criminal record will be clean if he cooperates.

MDHHS employees charged

Nick Lyon was the former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director. He is the highest ranked official who has been charged.

Last update: February 6th, 2019

Lyon is facing involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County. 

Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah says it will take time to research and write his decision on a defense motion regarding a lower court ruling binding former director Nick Lyon over for trial.

The decision will be releasedin May.

Eden Wells was the MDHHS Chief Medical Executive.

Last update: April 9, 2019

She is being charged with allegedly knowingly giving false testimony to an investigator about the date she knew about the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Flint.

Wells and her attorney have denied any wrongdoing — her attorney claims that she had no legal duty to warn the public and was in fact working to resolve the water issues. Her case is still pending.

In October 2018, Wells was hired into the MDHHS in a confidential position, with an annual salary of $179,672. The move has prompted an outpouring of criticism from figures such as Flint mayor Karen Weaver and Flint State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich.

Former Governor Rick Snyder said that he was not aware that she was being considered for the position.

Nancy Peeler was the Director of the Program for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting.

Last update: April 15, 2019

Peeler allegedly hid documents that showed increased lead levels in Flint children, leading her to falsifying documents that demonstrated better test results. She is charged with misconduct in office and conspiracy.

Last week, her trial was delayed because the state attorneys requested adjournment.

Robert Scott was the Data Manager for the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention program.

Last update: April 15, 2019

Scott allegedly worked with Peeler to create the aforementioned falsified report. He is charged with misconduct in office and conspiracy. He is also charged with willful neglect of duty. Like Peeler, his trial was delayed because state attorneys requested adjournment.

Corinne Miller is the former Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology, and State Epidemiologist.

Last update: June 16, 2017

Miller is accused of directing employees to lie about the increased level of lead in Flint children's blood tests. Miller was also allegedly aware of the cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

Miller pleaded no contest for the charges. She was sentenced to 12 months and 300 hours of community service with a $1,000 fine. The felony charges were dropped as a result and she will not serve jail time.

Emergency managers

Darnell Earley was the former Flint Emergency Manager.

Last update: April 1st, 2019

He is accused of pushing the switch to the Flint River, despite knowing the inadequate testing abilities of the water plant. He also discouraged the switch back to Detroit's water system and did not inform the public of possible outbreaks.

Earley’s case is still being assessed by Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, pushing the conference to May 13th.

The Attorney General’s Office issued a statement after the conference Monday.

“Solicitor General Hammoud is continuing her due diligence to ensure justice is served for the people of Flint, and that includes thoroughly reviewing each case and its evidence in detail. Justice demands it and the people harmed in Flint deserve it. We won’t make any promises we cannot keep.”

Gerald Ambrose was the former Flint Emergency Manager.

Last update: April 1st, 2019

Ambrose is accused of failing to notify the public about possible outbreaks, discouraging a switch to Detroit water, and inappropriately using funds to build a KWA pipe.

Ambrose is in the same boat as Earley — Hammoud did not finish assessing his case, pushing it to May.

City of Flint employees

Howard Croft was the former Director of Public Works in Flint.

Last update: April 15th, 2019

Croft allegedly also supported the decision not to switch back to Detroit water, allegedly helped the EMs get bond money for the construction of the KWA pipeline by falsely claiming the money would be used for an emergency repair at the treatment plant, and also allegedly failed to alert the public about a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Former Flint mayor Dayne Walling testified that he believed that Croft was not qualified to solve the water problem.

Croft’s trial was adjourned before District Judge Nathaniel Perry on February 25th. It was to be postponed to April 15th, but then was delayed again this week to have more time to review the case.

Daugherty Johnson was the former Flint Utilities Director.

Like Croft, Johnson allegedly also supported the decision not to switch back to Detroit water and allegedly helped the EMs get bond money for the construction of the KWA pipeline by falsely claiming the money would be used for an emergency repair at the treatment plant.

His charges were dismissed in December 2018 in exchange for cooperation.

Michael Glasgow was the former City of Flint Laboratory and Water Quality Supervisor.

Last update: May 2017

Glasgow pleaded guilty in 2017 for a smaller charge of willful neglect of duty. He stated that he lied about two water sampling forms as well. His charges were dropped due to cooperation.

Nisa Khan joins Michigan Radio as the station’s first full-time data reporter. In that capacity, she will be reporting on data-driven news stories as well as working with other news staff to acquire and analyze data in support of their journalism.
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