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3 Officials Face Criminal Charges Over Flint's Water Crisis

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Apr 20, 2016 7:00PM

Two state regulators and an employee of Flint, who were tasked with monitoring the safety of the city's water supply, are now facing criminal charges related to the city's lead-tainted water crisis.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Wednesday that three people have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors that include evidence tampering, according to the Associated Press. He also said he expected to bring more charges in the case, telling reporters, "They failed Michigan families. Indeed, they failed us all."

The Detroit Free Press reports the three facing charges are Mike Glasgow, 40, an employee of Flint who is in charge of supervising the city's water quality; Mike Prysby, 53, a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) official; and Stephen Busch, 40, of DeWitt, another DEQ official, who serves as a district coordinator for the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance.

Flint's water crisis began when the city switched to using water from the Flint River to save money. The river became a source of tap water while a new pipe was being constructed, but the river water wasn't treated properly to control for corrosion, and residents were exposed to high levels of lead.

Prysby and Busch were both charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence and misdemeanor violations of water law, the Associated Press reports. They are accused of failing to order chemicals that would have controlled for lead corrosion. State environmental regulators have admitted to telling the city that chemicals weren't needed to control for corrosion.

Glasgow also was charged Wednesday with tampering with evidence and neglect as a public official. He is accused of changing lead water-testing results.

Residents of the city of Flint had been using lead-tainted water for nearly a year-and-a-half, exposing residents to a host of health problems whose scope will probably not be understood for decades. Children, who are most vulnerable to its effects, underwent tests showing they had high levels of lead in their systems.

Officials from the city all the way up to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have been accused of dithering while experts and residents raised concerns. It even became a flashpoint in the Michigan Democratic primary. A task force called the crisis a "case of environmental injustice."

Busch is currently on paid leave. Prysby took another job in the state agency. Glasgow testified against Prysby, saying the state official told him that phosphate wasn't necessary to halt lead corrosion.

Others involved in the scandal have resigned, including DEQ Director Dan Wyant and his spokesman Brad Wurfel as well as Susan Hedman, the director of the EPA's Midwest office in Chicago. Liane Shekter Smith, the former chief of the DEQ's Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, was fired.

6 Key Updates On Flint, Michigan's Water Crisis