6 more Michigan public workers charged in Flint water crisis

From The Associated Press:

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Six current or former state employees were charged Friday with misconduct and other crimes in the Flint water crisis, bringing to nine the number of public officials facing prosecution over the lead contamination that alarmed parents across the country.

Attorney General Bill Schuette brought a total of 18 charges against three employees from the Department of Environmental Quality – Liane Shekter Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook – and three from the Department of Health and Human Services – Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott. In addition to the misconduct in office charges, there were willful neglect of duty and various conspiracy counts.

Schuette planned to discuss the charges later Friday at a news conference in Flint, a poor, majority-black city of 100,000 that for 18 months used the Flint River for tap water as a way to save money while a new pipeline was under construction. The decision was made by a state-appointed emergency manager. The water, which wasn’t treated to control corrosion, leached lead from aging pipes and fixtures as it flowed into homes and businesses in the city about 55 miles north of Detroit. Elevated levels of the toxin were discovered in children.

Shekter Smith, former head of the state’s drinking water office, appeared last month in a Detroit courtroom so her lawyer could assert her constitutional right against self-incrimination amid ongoing investigations. She hadn’t yet been charged but was reassigned after the water crisis came to light and her firing was announced in February.

Shekter Smith’s attorney, Brian Morley, said Friday that he was surprised she was charged.

“It’s disappointing. … I think we’re going to be really hard-pressed to find that she did …

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