-- Two Michigan Department of Environment Quality employees have pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them in connection to the Flint toxic water crisis.
Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby were arraigned today and released on $10,000 bond. They both have probable cause conferences on May 4.
Prysby was charged with two felony counts of misconduct in office, one felony count of tampering with evidence, one felony count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and two misdemeanors (one treatment violation under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act and one monitoring violation under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act).
Busch is facing one felony count of misconduct in office, one felony count of tampering with evidence, one felony count of conspiracy tampering with evidence, and two misdemeanors (one treatment violation under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act and one monitoring violation under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act).
Flint Water Plant Water Quality Supervisor Michael Glasgow is charged with a felony related to tampering with evidence and misdemeanor willful neglect of duty. Glasgow did not appear in court today, but in a statement, his attorney, Robert Harrison, stressed that Glasgow is "an honest, decent person who has faithfully worked for the City of Flint and its residents for many years."
"Mike strongly opposed the transfer of the source of water for the City of Flint from the Detroit Water System to the Flint River," the statement reads. "Criminal charges against Mike are difficult to understand, given what Mike did in this case.... Mike voluntarily met with, and spoke with numerous investigators from the Attorney General’s office and the Genesee Prosecutor’s office on several occasions."
In a press conference today, Schuette accused Prysby and Busch of endangering the health of Flint residents by altering test results to show lower levels of lead in the city's water.
Schuette also said the two MDEQ employees "misled federal and local authorities, regulatory officials, and failed to provide safe and clean water to families of Flint."
Prysby's additional misconduct charge stems from his alleged authorizing of a permit for the Flint water treatment plant, which Schuette said he knew would fail to provide safe, clean water.
"There’s so many things that went terribly wrong and tragically wrong in Flint," Schuette said.
The two MDEQ employees violated the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to add anti-corrosive agents to the drinking water, Schuette alleged. He added that they allegedly manipulated water samples by directly asking Flint citizens to pre-flush their taps.
"They had a duty to protect the health of families of citizens of Flint," Schuette said. "They failed to discharge their duties.... Indeed, they failed us all."
Glasgow, a city employee, allegedly tampered with evidence by altering and falsifying reports to the MDEQ and Environmental Protection Agency, Schuette said. His willful neglect charge stems from alleged his violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
Schuette said the state is conducting a "thorough, complete and exhaustive" investigation and that every person who broke the law in the water crisis will be held accountable.
The maximum sentences for each of the felonies range from four to five years in prison, with fines for each in a range between $5,000-$10,000, according to the attorney general's office.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder later addressed the criminal charges against the officials in a press conference this afternoon, saying if they turn out to be true, it "takes it to a whole new level."