Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Tuesday morning new charges against two former emergency managers concerning the Flint water crisis.
This is the third round of charges Schuette has issued relating to the crisis, which began in April 2014 when the city switched water supplies from Detroit city water to Flint River water. The new water source contained a corrosive quality, which affected the lead pipes and contaminated the water supply.
Former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose were charged with multiple 20-year felonies for failing to protect Flint residents from contaminated drinking water, which resulted in health hazards.
They also face charges for false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses concerning the Karegnondi Water Authority Pipeline, along with ex-city of Flint executives Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson.
The second set of charges were related to Earley and Ambrose borrowing millions of dollars by claiming an environmental emergency through the Home Rule City Act emergency bond clause to pay for the Flint section of the KWA pipeline, as the bankrupted city could not get a loan to do so.
In addition, the investigation also found within the statement of purpose concerning the switch in water supply, a paragraph specifying that the Flint River water must be treated at the Flint Water Treatment Plant. However, the plant was not ready to be utilized to do so at the time of the switch.
Croft and Johnson allegedly put pressure on employees of the treatment facility to begin using the plant at the scheduled time for the switch despite known issues with the facility. The use of the Flint Water Treatment Plant was mandated as part of the deal to get bonds for the KWA pipeline.
In a press release, Schuette said the investigation has revealed that the Flint water crisis resulted from a financial need being prioritized over safety concerns.
“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,” he wrote. “The crisis in Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and a failure of management. An absence of accountability. We will proceed to deliver justice and hold those accountable who broke the law.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D–Flint) said in a press release the charges released today were a reflection on the poor performance of the emergency managers put in place by Gov. Rick Snyder (R).
“Justice for Flint families is important and I support ongoing investigations, led by the facts, which seek to hold those who caused this crisis responsible,” he wrote. “Today’s criminal charges, including against two of Governor Snyder’s state-appointed emergency managers, is an indictment not only of their decisions, but an indictment against the administration’s failed emergency manager law that contributed to this crisis.”