FLINT, Mich. (WJBK) - Two state regulators and a Flint employee were charged Wednesday with evidence tampering and other felonies and misdemeanors, for the first time raising the lead-tainted water crisis in the Michigan city to a criminal case.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette, among others, announced the charges in a news conference Wednesday afternoon. That conference has ended, but you can watch a replay on our YouTube page here.
"So many things went terribly wrong in Flint," Schuette started off by saying. "These charges are only the beginning and they'll be more to come - that I can guarantee you."
Michael Prysby, a DEQ district engineer, and Stephen Busch, who is a supervisor with the DEQ's Office of Drinking Water, were both charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence and tampering with evidence. These felony charges carry a combined penalty of 13 years in prison, if convicted.
Schuette says the two had a joint agreement to conceal test results on Flint water samples and, in some cases, altered test results. They're also both accused of failing to order chemicals to control corrosion.
Prysby has also been charged with an additional felony of misconduct in office for authorizing an operating permit for the Flint Water Treatment Plant knowing that the plant would fail to provide clean water. That is a 4-year felony.
Both Prysby and Busch also face an additional two misdemeanor charges for violating Michigan's Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to order chemicals to control corrosion, and by manipulating water samples by directing Flint citizens to pre-flush their taps.
Flint utilities administrator Michael Glasgow also was charged Wednesday with tampering with evidence for altering and falsifying lead water-testing results to the DEQ and the EPA, and charged with willful neglect of duty as a public servant.
"We'll go wherever the truth takes us, and, in this case, wherever the emails take us," Schuette added, referring to the hundreds of pages of emails being released by Gov. Rick Snyder's office.
He was joined by Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney David Leyton. Andrew Arena, the former director of the Detroit FBI office; Todd Flodd, an attorney from Royal Oak; Ellis Stafford, Flint native and former Michigan State Police inspector were also there. They were all appointed on Schuette's investigation team.
"It really hurts when I have friends, personal, close friends ... they live here," ELLIS said, choking back tears. "They wonder if there's any truth in this investigation. I hope I gave them some."
Schuette said during his press conference that these charges are just teh beginning and suggest that more charges are coming and that nobody is above the law.
The attorney for Glasgow, Robert Harrison released a statement on his behalf. He said that he has not yet received a warrant and complaint filed against Glasgow. He wrote:
"Mike is an honest, decent person who has faithfully worked for the City of Flint and its residents for many years.
He started at the bottom and worked his way up to his current position through hard work and commitment to his job and the residents of the City of Flint."
What happened in Flint and to its residents is a tragedy and should never have happened. As all of you know - and as has been publicly reported, Mike strongly opposed the transfer of the source of water for the City of Flint from the Detroit Water System to the Flint River.
"Criminal charges against Mike are difficult to understand, given what Mike did in this case. Not only was Mike strongly and publicly opposed to the transfer of the water system away from the Detroit system, but Mike voluntarily met with, and spoke with numerous investigators from the Attorney General's office and the Genesee Prosecutor's office on several occasions. These meetings all occurred over many days and many hours each time they met. At no time did Mike ask for an attorney to accompany him.