Two state officials and a city employee are the first to face criminal charges in the Flint water crisis.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges against Mike Glasgow, Flint’s laboratory and water quality supervisor; Mike Prysby, an official with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and Stephen Busch, the Lansing district coordinator for the state Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city changed its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to the Flint River, which led to public health issues, including lead contamination.
The criminal probe began in January and more officials could face charges.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Attorney General Says the Charges Against the Trio Are ‘Only the Beginning’
Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, said at a press conference the ongoing investigation will be “thorough, it will be complete and it will be exhaustive. We will enforce the law. This Flint crisis team that has been assembled, we will enforce the law. We will protect the victims, the families and citizens of Flint. And we will hold each and every person, each and every person who breaks the law, will be held accountable. We will follow the facts without fear or favor.”
He said the charges are “only the beginning” and there will be more to come.
Genesee District Court Judge Tracy Collier-Nix approved the charges against Michael Prysby, Michael Glasgow and Stephen Busch Wednesday morning, MLive.com reports.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the three men did not appear in court on Wednesday and will be arraigned at a later date.
2. Governor Rick Snyder Says the Charges Are a ‘Very Serious Matter’
Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who has faced heavy criticism for the state’s handling of the water crisis, told reporters Wednesday that the charges are a “very serious matter,” and said the government is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
“We’ve got a lot of wonderful people working for the state of Michigan,” Snyder said. “It’s great to have them part of the team, they’re out there helping people everyday. We have 47,000 people who work for the state. Let’s not let the possible situation of a handful effect all 47,000, let’s be proud of the people.”
3. Prysby Joked About the Water Crisis in an Email With Another Official
Mike Prysby, 53, previously drew attention for a joke he made in an email released to the public earlier this year, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“Thanks Richard…now off to physical therapy…perhaps mental therapy with all of these Flint calls….lol,” Prysby wrote to another state official on September 18, 2014. That was five months after the city switched its drinking water.
Prysby was charged with two counts of misconduct in office, and one count each of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence, engaging in a treatment violation that violates the MichiganSafe Drinking Water Act and engaging in a monitoring violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
According to MLive.com, he faces up to five years in prison on the misconduct in office charges, which are felonies.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the misconduct in office charges relate to accusations Prysby willfully and knowingly misled U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Genesee County Health Department officials. He also allegedly authorized a permit for the Flint Water Treatment Plant when he knew it was “deficient in its ability to provide clean and safe drinking water,” according to he complaint.
He is also accused of manipulating monitoring reports and the results of lead testing, the newspaper reports.
Prysby lives in Bath, Michigan, and remains a state employee. He was recently moved into a new position, within the transportation and flood hazard unit of the Department of Environmental Quality, the Free Press reported.
4. Glasgow Is Accused of Tampering With Evidence & Neglect of Office
Glasgow, 40, was charged with two counts of tampering with evidence and willful neglect of office.
He faces up to four years in prison on the tampering with evidence charge, which is a felony. Willful neglect of office is a misdemeanor, according to MLive.com.
Glasgow, like Prysby and Busch, is accused of manipulating monitoring reports and the results of lead testing, leading to the tampering charges.
He is also accused of failing to perform the duties of a certified water treatment plant operator, which led to the willful neglect charge, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Glasgow, of Flint, was still a city employee as of Wednesday morning.
5. The Charges Against Busch Include Misconduct in Office & Tampering With Evidence
Busch, 40, was charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, tampering with evidence, engaging in a treatment violation that violates the MichiganSafe Drinking Water Act and engaging in a monitoring violation that violates the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
He faces up to five years in prison on the felony misconduct in office charge, according to MLive.com. The other charges are misdemeanors.
The misconduct charge against Busch stems from the same allegations that were made against Prysby, that he willfully and knowingly misled U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Genesee County Health Department officials, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Busch, of Dewitt, Michigan, was suspended in January for his role in the crisis, Michigan Public Radio reported.