Four former government officials were charged on Tuesday, by Michigan prosecutors, with conspiring to violate safety rules linked to the Flint water crisis, ultimately exposing residents to lead poising.
Darnell Early and Gerald Ambrose, who had been state-appointed emergency managers, Howard Croft, a public works superintendent, as well as Daugherty Johnson, a utilities manager, were the four charged in the case, according to Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Last year a public crisis arose in Michigan, a primarily African American city estimated at 100,000 citizens, when high levels of lead were found in blood samples taken from children residing in Flint.
These four men had plotted to run the city’s water treatment plant even though it was deemed unsafe, Schuette informed those at a Flint news conference. He told the crowd, “Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and failure of management, an absence of accountability,” affirming that no one, no matter their government station, is exempt from charges.
After several critics called for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other high-ranking officials to be charged, Snyder spoke out denying any criminal wrongdoing.
In an email sent out by Anna Heaton, a Snyder spokeswoman, she stated that the state is fully committed to insuring that Flint recovers from this crisis.
As of today no attorneys are listed to represent the four men on court documents and a previous attorney for Earley would not respond when asked for comment.
Officials have said that those accused face felony charges of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses, with each charge carrying a prison term of up to 20 years and/or fines.
Gina Luster, a resident residing in Flint who’s 8-year-old daughter had been poisoned by the dangerous levels of lead in the water, wants those accused to pay for what they’ve done. She sent a text stating that “convictions and jail time is the ultimate goal for me.”
In April 2014, a decision was made by a state-appointed emergency manager to switch the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, to save on costs, which ultimately is linked to the start of the contamination crisis. The River water was more corrosive causing lead to seep from city pipes into the drinking water and in October of 2015 they switched back to former water supply.
Schuette believes that it was “all about numbers over people, money over health.”
Earley, the 65-year-old emergency manager, made the initial changes to the city’s water source. During the hearings last march, that took place in Washington, where lawmakers criticized Early for failing to make sure all the safety protocols were followed concerning the crisis, Earley lied and said the decisions were made by city and federal officials before his time in office.
In an email sent by Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, a water engineer, concerning the flint crisis he stated that “a broad net is certainly being cast.”
Many parents have filed lawsuits against the states after finding out that their children, who are most vulnerable to lead poising, have extremely high levels in their blood stream.
A total of thirteen former and current state and local officials have been criminally charged in connection to this crisis.
The latest indictments revealed that the emergency manager system, adopted by the state, has failed to protect residents’ as they have no obligation to the city according to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. She has asked that the city be provided with more financial aid by the state.
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