Schuette filing more criminal charges in Flint probe

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Attorney General Bill Schuette plans to announce new criminal charges Tuesday in his nearly year-long investigation of Flint’s water contamination crisis.

Scheutte’s office late Monday afternoon said the attorney general and his special prosecutor, Todd Flood, will hold a 10:30 a.m. news conference Tuesday at the Riverfront Banquet Center in Flint.

Schuette and Flood will be joined by Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who has been working with the attorney general’s special team to probe all aspects of how Flint’s water became tainted with toxic lead after the city switched water sources in April 2014.

The criminal investigation, which Schuette launched in late January, has already resulted in criminal charges against eight low-level state workers and one city of Flint employee.

The Attorney General’s office did not say Monday who would be charged criminally.

Schuette has vowed for months that more criminal charges are coming amid questions from defense attorneys and outside observers about whether he’s using the investigation to further his political ambitions. The Midland Republican is a likely contender for governor in 2018.

“It’s the attorney general’s investigation, and we’re all waiting to see where it goes,” former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said Monday. “I haven’t heard a thing.”

Schuette’s last round of criminal charges came in late July against six current and former state employees who allegedly altered or concealed alarming reports showing high levels of toxic lead in Flint’s water and the bloodstreams of the city’s children.

Since then, Flood’s investigation had been relatively quiet until mid-October when The Detroit News first reported on documents showing state health department director Nick Lyon was a “target” of the probe.

Lyon’s attorneys disclosed the letter after repeated public statements by Schuette that “nobody is targeted” in the investigation. Flood’s letter appeared to directly contradicted Schuette’s comments.

Also in mid-October, Lyon’s attorneys released a copy of a subpoena they received from Schuette’s office with a criminal case against Lyon that had not been filed.

No criminal charges were ever filed against Lyon.

Schuette’s office wouldn’t discuss why a subpoena was issued under a different case number, though court officials suspect it was a mistake.

An attorney for Lyon did not return a message Monday seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Schuette and Flood have said they are investigating why the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not publicly disclose an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014 and 2015 while Flint was using Flint River water.

The disease outbreak, which killed 12 people, has never been directly linked to the city’s contaminated drinking water, though health officials can’t rule it out.

“Twelve people died of Legionella,” Schuette said in an Oct. 17 radio interview. “That’s something that could not be ignored.”

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Twitter: @ChadLivengood