Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on April 20 announced that he filed a total of 13 felony charges and five misdemeanor charges against two state officials and one city official as a result of their actions in the Flint water contamination crisis currently gripping the city.
“So many things went so terribly wrong in Flint,” said Schuette at a press conference on April 20. “I made a decision that I must investigate what went wrong. It is my job as attorney general to protect the citizens of Michigan. The citizens of Flint deserve that, the citizens of Michigan deserve that. This investigation is ongoing, it is broad, detailed and comprehensive."
Schuette did not dismiss the possibility of taking his investigation all the way to the governor’s office. "It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, if you break the law there will be consequences,” he said.
Charges were filed in the Genesee County 67th District Court in Flint against the following three individuals:
- Stephen Busch, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 water supervisor (three felonies, two misdemeanors)
- Michael Prysby, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 water engineer (four felonies, two misdemeanors)
- Michael Glasgow, city of Flint laboratory and water quality supervisor (one felony, one misdemeanor).
The maximum sentences for each of the felonies, which are summarized below, range from four to five years in prison, with fines for each ranging between $5,000-$10,000.
The charges are the first announced as a result of Schuette’s investigation into the crisis, which is being conducted by Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, Chief Investigator Andy Arena and Deputy Chief Investigator Ellis Stafford. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton also is working with Schuette on the investigation and joined Schuette in Flint for the announcement.
“We are working closely together on this investigation because the people of Flint deserve nothing less than the truth and we will keep working until we get to the bottom of this,” said Leyton.
Schuette noted the investigation remains fully active and that the charges filed April 20 do not preclude additional charges at a later date.
Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby both were charged with a felony count of misconduct in office. Schuette alleges that between February 2015 and November 2015 Busch and Prysby committed misconduct in office by “willfully and knowingly misleading federal regulatory officials in the Environmental Protection Agency, including, but not limited to, Miguel Del Toral, and/or Genesee County Health Department officials, including, but not limited to, James Henry, in violation of [their] duty to provide clean and safe drinking water to the citizens of the County of Genesee, State of Michigan and to protect the public health; contrary to MCL 750.505. [750.505].”
The charge is a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Both men were charged with tampering with evidence, another felony that is punishable by four years in prison and a $10,000 fine. According to Schuette from approximately January 2015 through November 2015, Busch and Prysby conspired, combined, confederated and agreed together with others, both known and unknown, to tamper with evidence, including but not limited to manipulating monitoring reports mandated by law.
They also were charged with a felony and are facing four years in prison and a fine of $5,000 if convicted of tampering with evidence for intentionally removing, altering, concealing, destroying or otherwise tampering with evidence. According to the charges, they altered reports titled “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result” dated Feb. 27, 2015 July 28, 2015 and Aug. 20, 2015.
They both were charged with a misdemeanor violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act for allegedly ceasing the utilization of optimal corrosion control treatment at the Flint Water Treatment Plant after the plant switched to the Flint River as a water source and refused to mandate optimized corrosion control treatment at the Flint Water Treatment Plant in a timely manner after the lead action level was exceeded. Those charges, if the men are found guilty, could result in a year in prison and a $5,000.00 for each day of violation.
They also were charged with a monitoring violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, for allegedly improperly manipulating the collection of water samples by directing residents to “pre-flush” their taps by running the water for five minutes the night before drawing a water sample and for failing to collect required samples included in the Tier 1 category of serviced lines and for removing test results from samples to be included in the Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result. This charge, also a misdemeanor, also carries a year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine for each day of violation.
Prysby faces an additional charge of misconduct in office for allegedly authorizing a permit on April 4, 2014 to the Flint Water Treatment Plant knowing the Flint Water Treatment Plant was deficient in its ability to provide clean and safe drinking water. If convicted on this count, Prysby would be sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Michael Glasgow was charged with a felony count of tampering with evidence for “knowingly and intentionally” removing, altering, concealing, destroying or otherwise tampering with evidence to be offered in an official proceeding (the report titled “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result” dated Feb. 27, 2015, July 28, 2015 andr August 20, 2015. If convicted, he faces four years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty by “failing to perform the duties of an F-1 certified operator employed by the Flint Water Treatment Plant.” That misdemeanor charge carries a one year sentence and a fine of $1,000.
"What happened here in Flint is a tragedy, and we will continue to investigate all information that comes our way," said Schuette. "This is not something I take lightly."