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Top Flint investigator resigns after arrest

Oralandar Brand-Williams, and Chad Livengood
DetroitNews

A top investigator on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s team probing possible criminal wrongdoing related to Flint’s water crisis has resigned over drunken driving allegations, the attorney general’s office announced Sunday.

Ellis Stafford was the deputy chief investigator for the team evaluating decisions that led up to Flint residents being exposed to high levels of lead.

“I have accepted the resignation of Ellis Stafford. I thank him for his efforts on the Flint water investigation,” Schuette said in a statement Sunday. “Ellis and his family are in my thoughts and prayers in this challenging time.”

Stafford was arrested Saturday was by Canton Township Police Department, according to Andrea Bitely, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.

The arrest occurred around 12:30 a.m. in front of a Target store on Michigan Avenue near Beck Road, police said. More details are expected to be released Monday. No other details were provided Sunday.

Efforts to reach Stafford were unsuccessful Sunday night. Stafford, a retired Michigan State Police inspector and a member of the Detroit Crime Commission, was earning $165 an hour for his work.

Through the end of June, Stafford had been paid $51,026, according to billing records obtained by The Detroit News in August.

Stafford was hired earlier this year by Schuette as part of a team that includes high-profile attorney Todd Flood and Andrew Arena, the former special agent in charge of the FBI office in Detroit, to investigate the water crisis.

The investigative team is comprised of more than 20 attorneys and investigators.

Several individuals, mostly state employees with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, have been criminally charged in connection with the Flint water crisis.

The city’s water problems stem from Flint’s April 2014 switch from Detroit’s water system to water that lacked corrosion controls from the Flint River.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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