Flint public works employee pleads no contest in water emergency case

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FLINT (WJRT) (11/28/2017) - One of three City of Flint Workers charged in the water emergency has taken a plea deal.

Daugherty "Duffy" Johnson, the former Utilities Director for the Department of Public Works, pleaded no contest Tuesday.

Johnson was charged in December 2016 with false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses. Both charges are 20-year felonies.

But, due to his cooperation in the investigation, the Prosecution dropped the felony charges, instead adding the misdemeanor charge of failing to provide public documents.

"What this case against Mr. Johnson boiled down to was a specific interaction regarding some documents that people wanted to look at that he just neglected to provide in a timely fashion," his defense attorney, Edwar Zeineh said.

The Judge explained in court Tuesday that back in January 2015, Johnson failed to provide paperwork regarding the Water Treatment Plant to an employee with the Genesee County Health Department.

Emails showed Jim Henry, the Environmental Health Supervisor, asked multiple times for the documents, eventually filing a FOIA to get the materials. The Prosecution says Johnson still neglected to hand them over.

That alleged misstep is now the only charge against Johnson due to his cooperation with the Prosecution

"He gave so much flesh to the bones of this case, disclosing the fraud, disclosing the players that were involved," said the Attorney General's Special Prosecutor Todd Flood.

He says Johnson will now testify in other cases and depending on how that goes, he'll be sentenced in May.

Zeineh expects no jail time for his client.

"I think Duffy's an honest, hardworking individual who knows to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and I think he's going to do that," he said.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilty but is treated as such at sentencing.

Johnson is one of few Flint city employees charged in connection with the water emergency. Several state employees, including Michigan's top medical official and the Department of Health and Human Services director, are still facing charges.

Their charges stem from alleged failures to carry out their duties and from the deaths of people who contracted Legionnaires' disease after Flint began pumping drinking water from the Flint River. A dozen people died from Legionnaires' blamed on the water switch.

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