Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has added six more people to his roster of defendants accused of causing or exacerbating the lead poisoning of Flint’s tap water. The charges, which include willful neglect and misconduct in office, are against three current or former employees of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and three from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In a press conference about the charges today (July 29) Schuette said the defendants attempted to cover up the crisis. ”These people concealed the truth,” Schuette said. ”They were criminally wrong to do so. And the victims, well, these are real people. Families who have been lied to by government officials and have been treated as expendable, as if they don’t count.”
The defendants who remain at the health department are Nancy Peeler and Robert Scott. Their colleague Corinne Miller no longer works for the agency. MDEQ still employs defendants Patrick Cook and Adam Rosenthal. Fellow defendant Liane Shekter-Smith has stopped working for MDEQ.
When asked why Gov. Rick Snyder isn’t “being arrested,” Schuette responded: ”There is no target. We’re just going where the truth takes us.”
In April, Schuette filed felony charges against one City of Flint official and two MDEQ officials for tampering with evidence, among other charges. Then, in June, as Colorlines reported, he sued two private companies accused of worsening the water contamination.
“There is one system of justice,” Schuette said, “and it applies to everybody. Equally. No matter who you are. Period.”
So far, more than 315 cases are pending in several state and federal courts, reported Crain’s Detroit Business earlier this month. These include not only Schuette’s lawsuits, but also class-action lawsuits and individual cases against private companies and the state.
Meanwhile, Flint residents still can’t drink their tap water without a filter.