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Criminal charges filed against three in the Flint water crisis

Apr 20, 2016

An official in the state Attorney General's office says warrants were issued this morning in 67th District Court against Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, and former Supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch.

The charges stem from their involvement in the Flint water crisis.

Attorney General Schuette launched the investigation three months ago.

In addition to the charges against the three individuals, Schuette said more people will be charged.

"These charges are only the beginning. And there will be more to come," Schuette said. "That I can guarantee you."

Here’s more about the three individuals charged and their roles in the crisis:

MDEQ's Stephen Busch.
Credit WNEM-TV

Stephen Busch

Title: former supervisor of the Lansing District Office, Community Water Supply Program, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Busch was one of two MDEQ employees suspended in late January in connection to the Flint water crisis. His boss, Liane Shekter-Smith, was fired. But Busch remains on the payroll.

The 5 charges he faces:

  1. Misconduct in office (felony),
  2. Conspiracy - tampering with evidence (felony),
  3. Tampering with evidence (felony),  
  4. Treatment violation - Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor),
  5. Monitoring violation – Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor)

More on Busch’s role in the crisis:

Busch is the supervisor of one of DEQ’s eight district offices within the department’s drinking water program. Emails show that, in February of 2015, he initially told federal regulators that Flint was using water treatment that would’ve prevented lead from corroding from old pipes and entering people's drinking water. Two months later, after a citizen discovered Flint was not using corrosion control treatment, Busch admitted to the same EPA officials that Flint wasn’t treating the water, but he and others at MDEQ argued that the city was still following federal rules.

Michael Prysby

Title: former district engineer at MDEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance

Prysby recently transferred to the transportation and flood hazard unit of the water resources division.

The six charges he faces:

  1. One count of misconduct in office (felony),
  2. A second count of misconduct in office (felony),
  3. Conspiracy tampering with evidence (felony),
  4. Tampering with evidence (felony), 
  5. Treatment violation - Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor),
  6. Monitoring violation – Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (misdemeanor)

More on Prysby’s role in the crisis:

As MDEQ’s district engineer, Prysby was involved with the technical aspects in the switch to the Flint River. Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow emailed Prysby shortly before the switch in April 2014, about concerns that the city was not ready to properly treat the water. Prysby did not respond. Prysby was slated to approve the construction upgrades to the Flint Water Treatment Plant that allowed the switch, but a medical leave he took at the time meant another MDEQ official signed the documents in his place.

Prysby continued to be involved in how MDEQ handled Flint’s water testing; Glasgow says both Prysby and Busch advised him to drop two high lead samples, which kept Flint below the federal action level for lead in water. Glasgow said Prysby and Busch were both aware that Glasgow had not tested at the “highest risk” homes for lead as federal regulations require.

Flint Utilities Administrator, Mike Glasgow.
Credit Steve Carmody, Michigan Radio

Michael Glasgow

Title: Flint Utilities Administrator 

The two charges he faces:

  1. Tampering with evidence (felony),
  2. Willful neglect of duty (misdemeanor)

More on Glasgow’s role in the crisis:

Glasgow warned MDEQ officials the city was not ready to properly treat the Flint River shortly before the switch in April 2014. When he found high lead levels at one resident’s home in February 2015, he worried he was not getting a good representation of the city’s lead problems. He says he told MDEQ officials that spring he was collecting samples outside the city’s normal pool of “high risk” homes, which is against federal regulations.

In the summer of 2015, Glasgow submitted a report to MDEQ that showed the city’s lead levels were too high. But on the advice of Prysby and Busch, Glasgow resubmitted the report with two of the highest samples invalidated. Glasgow wrote on the report that the samples were not all taken from “high risk” homes, but also certified that all of the homes included had lead service lines, which is not true. Prysby, Busch and other MDEQ officials ignored this until November, after news reports about the discrepancy came out.