A plea deal is struck with one of the 3 originally charged in April
In April, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced felony charges against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials and one city official related to actions that lead to lead contamination of the Flint’s public drinking water.
Now, six more state employees have been charged.
Charged are Michigan Department of Health and Human Services workers Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees Liane Shekter-Smith; Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook, according to testimony this morning in Flint’s district court.
“Some people failed to act, others minimized harm done and arrogantly chose to ignore data, some intentionally altered figures … and covered up significant health risks,” he said.
Nancy Peeler’s alleged actions are an example of why the six are in legal hot water.
A year ago, as claims surfaced that Flint, Michigan’s water had been contaminated with lead, state employees were reassuring residents that their findings suggested otherwise.
“So upon review, we don’t believe our data demonstrates an increase in lead poisoning rates that might be attributable to the change in water source for Flint,” wrote Nancy Peeler, head of the Michigan department health and human services’ childhood lead poisoning prevention program, in a 28 July 2015 email to colleagues.
The analysis cited by Peeler showed a spike in elevated blood lead levels among Flint residents, in the months after the city began using a local river as its main water source. Peeler, however, attributed the increase to a “seasonal effect”, brought on by “people opening and closing windows more often in the summer”.
Peeler is alleged to have done even more, with the help of Scott and Miller.
[Peeler] and Robert Scott “buried” an epidemiologist’s July 28, 2015, report showing a significant year-over-year spike in blood lead levels in Flint children.
Corrine Miller, the state’s top epidemiologist, later ordered a DHHS employee to delete emails about that July 28 report and prevented action to alert top state health officials and the public, Schuette said.
Another employee, Adam Rosenthal, was charged with tampering with evidence related to lead and copper test results. The other two are facing even more serious charges.
Cook, a water treatment engineer, was charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to engage in misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty for allegedly working with Rosenthal to manipulate a Lead and Copper Rule report on the levels of lead in Flint’s water last summer, Seipenko said.
…Shekter Smith, the former chief of DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, is the only state employee who has been fired for her role in Flint’s water crisis. She faces charges of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty for allegedly ignoring mounting problems with river water between April 2014 and October 2015.
How are the first three charged faring? Flint utilities administrator Michael Glasgow offered no contest plea to a judge for his role in the ongoing and widespread water contamination case, reducing the charges against him to a misdemeanor level.
Special prosecutor Todd Flood agreed to drop a felony charge of tampering with evidence after Glasgow was willing to plea and to cooperate with state and federal investigators into water contamination in the city’s system.
Flood said if Glasgow does not fulfill all the conditions of his plea agreement, he will reinstate all charges against him.
Preliminary examinations for the other two Department of Environmental Quality employees charged with criminal wrongdoing (Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch) in the Flint water crisis have been delayed until later this month.
However, for the time being, it appears that some justice is slowly dripping out of the Michigan legal system for Flint residents.DONATE
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