DEQ de­fense lawyers grill ex-Flint plant op­er­a­tor

The Detroit News - - Metro - BY LEONARD N. FLEM­ING The Detroit News

Flint — De­fense at­tor­neys on Mon­day chal­lenged the truth­ful­ness of the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tion’s lead wit­ness against Michi­gan Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity em­ploy­ees charged with crimes re­lated to the Flint wa­ter cri­sis.

At­tor­neys for DEQ em­ploy­ees Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby heav­ily ques­tioned Michael Glas­gow, the for­mer wa­ter util­i­ties ad­min­is­tra­tor for Flint. They con­stantly re­ferred to a in­ter­view Glas­gow had with the Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion in March 2016 about the open­ing of the Flint Wa­ter Treat­ment plant in 2014 prior to the con­tro­ver­sial switch to the cor­ro­sive Flint River.

Busch at­tor­ney De­day LaRene asked Glas­gow if he said no one “pres­sured you to put that Flint Wa­ter Treat­ment plant on­line.”

“I did make that state­ment,” said Glas­gow, who reached a plea deal with Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tor Todd Flood in ex­change for his tes­ti­mony, but in­di­cated he was foggy about his ex­act con­ver­sa­tion with the feds.

The com­ment came af­ter LaRene pointed out that Glas­gow was be­ing pres­sured by his su­pe­ri­ors in Flint to jump-start the wa­ter treat­ment plant even though Glas­gow said it wasn’t ready to go.

“The whole idea of putting the plant into ser­vice was un­usual in my eyes any­way,” Glas­gow said.

This was the first day of cross ex­am­i­na­tion of Glas­gow in 67th District Court be­fore Judge Jen­nifer Man­ley in the pre­lim­i­nary exam hear­ing for wa­ter reg­u­la­tors Busch, Prysby, Patrick Cook as well as Liane Shek­ter Smith, the fired head of the DEQ divi­sion re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing Flint’s wa­ter source switch.

Shek­ter Smith and Busch each had a charge of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter added in June 2017. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette ac­cused them and four oth­ers of fail­ing to alert the pub­lic about a 2014-2015 out­break of Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease in the Flint area that killed 12 peo­ple and sick­ened an­other 79 in­di­vid­u­als.

Glas­gow ad­mit­ted he lied on monthly wa­ter sam­pling doc­u­ments as a “cry for help” to the DEQ. Prysby at­tor­ney Frank Reynolds pressed that point on his cross ex­am­i­na­tion.

“So you lied to” the DEQ? Reynolds asked.

“No, it was mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion on the re­port,” Glas­gow coun­tered.

When Reynolds con­tin­ued to press, Glas­gow said, “mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion and a lie...” and shrugged his shoul­ders. He said he didn’t re­mem­ber Flood us­ing the word “lie” dur­ing his prior tes­ti­mony.

In Fe­bru­ary, Glas­gow said the wa­ter treat­ment plant was not ready when it opened in April 2014, and he tried to warn two DEQ em­ploy­ees af­ter he was re­buffed by city of­fi­cials.

He also tes­ti­fied that he reached out to Prysby, Busch and Rosen­thal via email with con­cerns that no one from the state who was run­ning Flint was lis­ten­ing to his con­cerns.

LaRene noted that Glas­gow told the FBI that his em­ploy­ees “were ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing a fully op­er­a­tional wa­ter plant that they would be op­er­at­ing.” He couldn’t re­call if he made the state­ment.

Reynolds also pep­pered Glas­gow with ques­tions about his plea deal with Flood, say­ing at one point, “You’re just go­ing to skate out of here” with­out a crim­i­nal charge or prison time.

Glas­gow pleaded guilty in May to a re­duced charge of will­ful ne­glect of duty, a one-year mis­de­meanor. Sen­tenc­ing for Glas­gow was set aside as long as he co­op­er­ates with At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette’s of­fice.

“I did not want the wa­ter plant to run at all,” Glas­gow said to Reynolds.

Detroit News file

Michael Glas­gow, for­mer wa­ter util­i­ties ad­min­is­tra­tor for Flint

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