Six officials from Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality have been formally charged with criminal offenses for the role they played in the Flint water crisis. Genesee County Judge Nathaniel C. Perry III authorized the charges Friday.
“Their offenses vary, but there is an overall theme and repeated pattern,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “Each of these individuals attempted to bury, or cover up, to downplay or hide information that contradicted their own narrative. Their story was there was nothing wrong with Flint water and it was perfectly safe to use. These individuals concealed the truth. They were criminally wrong to do so.”
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services employees Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller, and Robert Scott face charges of “misconduct in office, conspiring to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty related to allegedly concealing or disregarding test results showing high levels of lead in the bloodstreams of Flint residents.” According to Jeff Seipenko, an investigator in Schuette’s office, Peeler and Scott worked together to conceal a damning report that showed elevated blood lead testing in Flint residents during the summer of 2015. Both Scott and Peeler work for their department’s childhood lead poisoning prevention program.
The former chief of Michigan’s Office of Drinking Water, Liane Shekter-Smith, and current water regulators at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook, are charged with various crimes as well, including misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, and willful neglect of duty of a public official.
On Friday, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality released a statement, which says Peeler, Scott, Cook, and Rosenthal are currently suspended without pay. Corrine Miller retired from DHHS in April of this year. Shekter-Smith is the only state employee who was fired for her role in the Flint water crisis.