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3 Face Criminal Charges Over Flint Water Crisis

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is expected to announce criminal charges as part of an investigation into Flint's tainted water.
Paul Sancya
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is expected to announce criminal charges as part of an investigation into Flint's tainted water.

Three people — two officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality and a water official from Flint — are facing criminal charges as a result of an investigation into the lead-contaminated water case in Flint.

The three men face felony charges including misconduct, neglect of duty and conspiracy to tamper with evidence. They've also been charged with violating Michigan's Safe Drinking Water Act.

The state officials, Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby, work in the department's water quality section; they've been charged with intentional tampering of evidence, among other charges, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"We allege and we will prove that Mr. Busch and Mr. Prsyby altered test results which endangered the health of citizens and families of Flint," Schuette said.

The city employee, Michael Glasgow, is Flint's water quality supervisor. He's also charged with tampering with evidence.

"I've said this before and it bears repeating: so many things went so terribly wrong, and tragically wrong, in Flint," Schuette said.

Earlier this year, Schuette put an investigative team together to look into the water problem.

The Detroit News reports:

Schuette is scheduled to make an announcement of the charges for either malfeasance and/or misconduct in office against the three individuals related to the lead contamination of Flint's water supply, according to two sources.

The indictments are "the first of more to come," one source said.

The Detroit Free Pressreports:

Sources said the number of people to be charged Wednesday was still uncertain late Tuesday because of the possibility one or more of those targeted could agree to cooperate with authorities and avoid charges.

A person familiar with the matter said that other parts of state and Flint city government remain under investigation. The prosecution team is trying to uncover more about why the individuals expected to be charged Wednesday, as well as others still under investigation, may have acted the way they did and who may have instructed them to do so, according to one of the sources.

Residents of Flint are using filters and bottled water while the city is under a state of emergency.

In 2014, while the city was under the control of state-appointed emergency managers, Flint officials switched the water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

Soon after the change, residents began complaining the water didn't look right and it had an odor.

Then elevated levels of lead were discovered in the water.

Last month, independent investigators released a report which mostly blamed state officials for the crisis.

On Tuesday, during a visit to Flint, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyderannounced he would drink Flint's water for the next 30 days.

He said wants to prove that when filtered, the water is safe to drink.

Last week, when Snyder encouraged Flint residents to use more filtered tap water instead of bottled water, he "was told by a state official that Flint residents wanted him to start drinking the tap water first," the Free Press reports.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
Doreen McCallister