Attorney general asks Wayne County prosecutor to take over Flint water criminal cases

Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 6:16 PM EST
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(01/04/19) - A big shakeup could be on the way for the Flint water crisis criminal cases.

New Attorney General Dana Nessel has asked Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to take over for Special Prosecutor Todd Flood.

Flood, who was appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette, has brought charges against 15 current and former city and state employees to date.

Two of those cases have been bound over for trial -- former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and former Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells.

Nessel had not revealed much about her plans for Flint until Friday. Just days earlier she gave a passionate speech during her swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol.

"I wanted the people of Michigan to feel like they truly had a government that cared about them again," Nessel said. "And I wanted a government that cared equally about all the people of our state."

Worthy worked with Nessel's staff on the transition from Schuette to her staff in charge of the Michigan Attorney General's Office.

"I have total confidence in Prosecutor Worthy and her office and there is no one whose opinion I value more when it comes to the complexity and importance of these cases," Nessel said. "We are hoping to have a response from Prosecutor Worthy regarding acceptance of these cases soon."

Worthy's office released a statement acknowledging Nessel's request without saying whether they would take on the cases:

“Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has asked the Wayne County Prosecutors Office (WCPO) to do an independent evaluation of the Flint Water criminal cases. A decision will be made at a later time addressing what entity will continue these prosecutions. The WCPO will not be making any public statements and will provide the Attorney General with a full report when this assessment is completed. It (is) important to remember that there is a lot of material to review as these investigations are almost three years old.”

Flood declined to comment on Nessel's request Friday. It was unclear whether he would remain involved if Worthy takes over the cases or be entirely relieved of his duties.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver also declined to comment on the issue Friday.

Flint's two Democrat state representatives were firmly in favor of Worthy taking charge of the cases. They issued the following statements:

“Prosecutor Kym Worthy is an experienced attorney who has shown time and again that she is willing to fight to protect the public. I am confident that the referral of the Flint water investigation by Attorney General Nessel is in the best interest of the Flint residents who were harmed in the water crisis, and I appreciate the urgency with which Attorney General Nessel has addressed this issue. I look forward to the results of this review, and the prompt pursuit of justice,”

-- State Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint)

“The people of Flint undoubtedly suffered enough at the hands of the previous administration; it is refreshing to have an attorney general take such serious and immediate action to ensure the Flint community receives the support and resources they deserve. As we enter the fifth year since this crisis began, I am grateful for Attorney General Nessel’s swift and decisive action, and look forward to supporting her in any way I can to help bring long-overdue justice to the Flint community,”

said state Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint)