3 officials charged over Flint water crisis

Three officials charged in Flint water crisis
Three officials charged in Flint water crisis

The man who ran Flint's water treatment plant and two state environmental officials were hit with criminal charges Wednesday for allegedly misleading regulators about the lead crisis -- and prosecutors said more are coming.

Mike Glasgow was charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty for allegedly filing false reports to the state about water quality. Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby were charged with misconduct, evidence tampering and violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act for allegedly altering water test results.

RELATED: Scenes from the height of the crisis

Details of the charges, a mix of felonies and misdemeanors that could carry prison time, were announced by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who launched a criminal investigation after the discovery of lead in Flint's water sparked a state of emergency and a national focus on water safety.

"They had a duty to protect the health and safety of the families and citizens of Flint," Schuette said of the three defendants. "They failed us all."

Ellis Stafford, one of Schuette's special investigators and a Flint native, choked up as he spoke about the toll on the impoverished city of 99,000 people.

"It hurts," he said.

EXPLORE MORE: Full coverage of the Flint water crisis

Schuette said as the investigation continues, more charges will be filed but he declined to say when or who the targets are.

"We will go down every rabbit hole. This is just the first wave," said Todd Flood, who is working as a special counsel in the AG's investigation.

The three officials who were charged Wednesday:

In this 2013 file photo, Michael Glasgow, laboratory water quality supervisor, tests water for bacteria and pH levels, among other tests at the Flint water plant. (Photo courtesy AP)

Flint's water crisis unfurled after the city stopped using Detroit's water and switched its supply to the river in April 2014, a move that exposed residents to lead-poisoning, Legionnaires' disease, E. coli bacteria and toxic chemical byproducts.

Locals were repeatedly assured by government officials that their water was safe, even as outside experts were warning that it was not.

The mess unleashed a wave of lawsuits, triggered calls for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to resign, became an issue in the presidential campaign, and was the subject of Congressional hearings.

Rep. Elijah Cummings called the criminal charges "one step towards justice for the families of Flint" but said the three men named in the warrants are not the only ones to blame.

Data curated by FindTheData

"Governor Snyder can hold all the photo ops he wants drinking filtered water now, but that doesn't help the residents of Flint who were drinking poisoned, unfiltered water for more than a year," Cummings said. "The people of Flint deserve accountability for the actions of Governor Snyder and his officials that caused this crisis."

Snyder's office said he had no immediate comment on the charges and did not know whether he would make any statement at all.