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Flint water crisis criminal investigation nears end, charges possible early next year

In this March 21, 2016, file photo the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint.
In this March 21, 2016, file photo the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 4:22 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The second criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis is nearing its conclusion with charges possible early next year.

Courtney Covington Watkins, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, said on Tuesday that investigators hope to make an announcement on the investigation sometime during the first three months of 2021.

Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy are leading the investigation on behalf of the attorney general’s office. They took over the investigation shortly after Attorney General Dana Nessel took office on Jan. 1, 2019.

Former Attorney General Bill Schuette launched the investigation into criminal responsibility for the Flint water crisis in 2016. Special Prosecutor Todd Flood issued 50 charges against 15 defendants for alleged wrongdoing that contributed to lead poisoning from Flint’s drinking water.

Court proceedings against the defendants continued for three years. Some of the defendants accepted plea deals from Flood’s team, which allowed charges to be dropped after successfully completing terms of probation.

Flood continued working for Hammoud and Worthy for a short time in 2019 until they dismissed him. They eventually decided in June 2019 to drop all remaining charges against eight defendants that were still pending in court and start the investigation over from the beginning.

Hammoud and Worthy said Flood’s investigation was based on a “flawed foundation” and his team did not pursue all evidence. Investigators began pursuing more evidence and poring over millions of documents in the summer of 2019 as part of the new investigation.

Former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint emergency managers Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley, former Flint Public Works Director Howard Croft, former Michigan Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells and three other state workers were awaiting court proceedings when their charges were dropped.

The criminal investigation does not affect the proposed $641.2 million settlement to civil lawsuits related to the Flint water crisis. A federal judge is planning to decide whether to accept the settlement in January.

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