Flint, MI- Prosecutors in Flint have charged former Flint officials with multiple felonies after the city’s water supply was contaminated with lead and children were poisoned. For nearly three years, residents of Flint drank the contaminated water and used to for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Even when they were made aware that the Flint water was unsafe, city officials allowed residents to continue using the water and did little to ensure citizens had access to a safe water supply.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has charged several former city officials for their role Flint’s water crisis and is continuing his investigation. He noted that his inquiry is looking at state officials to see what role anyone at that level may have played.
Michigan’s Attorney General has charged 13 city and state officials for their role in the crisis which allowed residents to drink water contaminated with lead and Legionnaire’s bacteria for three years.
In early December, AG Schuette charged two city managers appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to oversee the city’s finances between 2013 and 2015 with several felony counts.
Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose were accused of false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, misconduct in office and willful neglect, according to the Detroit Free Press. If they are found guilty of charges, they would both face up to 46 years in prison.
Previously, Schuette charged, Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson, also former officials in Flint with false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses. If convicted, these two men face up to 40 years in prison.
Thus far, 13 people have been charged in relation to the water crisis which left the city’s water supply contaminated with lead. Schuette alleges that the city officials who have been charged conspired to operate the Flint Water Treatment Plant even though they knew it was unsafe to use water from the facility, the Detroit Free Press reports.
In 2014, despite knowing that the Flint Water Treatment Facility was not ready to deliver safe drinking water, Flint officials allowed the city’s water supply to be taken from the Flint River. One water treatment plant official said that city officials ignored warnings and stopped drawing water from the Detroit River.
AG Schuette said, “All too prevalent in this Flint Water Investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint.”Flint’s water crisis demonstrates the cost of putting money above the well-being of people.
The result of caring more about finances than citizens was catastrophic for the residents of Flint. Because city officials allowed residents to drink contaminated water for multiple years, many people were exposed to high levels of lead. Twelve people died of Legionnaire’s disease and many children in the city have high levels of lead in their bloodstreams, which can result in a chronic of medical problems.
Melissa Mays, a Flint mother who turned into an advocate, told the Mint Free Press that 6,000 to 12,000 children in the city had been exposed to lead. Prolonged exposure to lead can lead to physical and mental developmental problems that can last a lifetime.
Levels of lead have declined significantly but many residents are reluctant to use the water, preferring to drink and cook with bottled water.
Schuette’s investigation is ongoing and more officials could be charged in the future.