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Flint water case dismissals part of plea agreements reached a year ago

(WJRT)
Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 4:51 PM EST
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(12/19/2019) - Two state officials who took plea deals in the Flint water crisis last year had their cases dismissed Wednesday in a move planned a year in advance.

The cases were dismissed in line with the plea agreement Steven Busch and Michael Prysby took one year ago. They were two of the first state officials to face charges related to the water crisis.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office under Bill Schuette's administration accused Busch and Prysby of altering lead levels in their reports to make Flint's water appear safe to drink.

They were each charged with four felonies and two misdemeanors in April 2016. They pleaded no contest one year ago to misdemeanors under an agreement requiring them to provide truthful testimony against other defendants for Flint water crisis investigators.

Under the agreement, their cases would be dismissed after a year if they provided the testimony.

Former Special Prosecutor Todd Flood brokered the plea agreements and the new investigation team appointed by Attorney General Dana Nessel was forced to complete it Wednesday -- albeit reluctantly.

"It was essentially doing what we were legally bound to do. You know, we inherited this investigation so we inherited, also, you know something we were legally bound to conform with at the end of the day."

In court Wednesday, the special assistant to the Attorney General was frustrated by what she called the former team's "failure" to do a proper interrogation with Busch and Prysby.

Busch and Prysby both worked for Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and were overseeing Flint's water system during the switch to the Flint River in 2014.

Only the case against former DEQ chief of drinking water and municipal assistance Liane Shekter-Smith remains. She pleaded no contest in January to one misdemeanor count of disturbing a lawful meeting.

The case against Shekter-Smith also is expected to be dismissed in January based on a similar plea agreement with Flood's prosecution team.

All charges were dropped against eight other defendants in June after Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who now are leading the investigation, decided to start over.

They are leading a new investigation and starting over from the beginning. New charges are possible against the 10 defendants and others as the case continues.

They have a deadline of early 2020 to file new charges before the statute of limitations takes effect on issues related to the water crisis.

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