Video by PBS NewsHour
Four former Flint, Michigan leaders, including two emergency managers, now face felony charges for their involvement in the city’s water crisis, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced today.
In a news conference Tuesday, Schuette said a judge authorized additional criminal charges against two former state-appointed emergency managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, and two former city employees, public works superintendent Howard Croft and utilities administrator Daugherty Johnson.
“Flint deserves better. The people of Flint are not expendable. So, to ‘move on’ is unacceptable,” Schuette told reporters.
The announcement brings the total number of people charged in the ongoing water crisis investigation to 13. Schuette previously brought criminal charges against nine state and city employees. The attorney general said while some have taken pleas, he vowed to “aggressively prosecute” cases that are proceeding to trial.
The city’s water supply became contaminated when the municipality, in an effort to save money, decided in April 2014 to use Flint River instead of Lake Huron as its main water source.
Schuette said the four individuals conspired to commit the city to borrowing tens of millions of dollars, under false pretenses, to build the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline to Lake Huron.
Tucked in that environmental contract, Schuette added, was a requirement that Flint use an ill-equipped city water plant to siphon lead-contaminated water from the Flint River as its water supply.
“The tragedy that we know as the Flint water crisis did not occur by accident,” the attorney general said. “Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and a failure of management,” he said.
Schuette said 12 people in Flint have died from Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia. The Detroit Free Press has reported that, while there isn’t a direct link connecting the outbreak to the water crisis, cases of Legionnaries’ began after the city switched its water supply.