Emergency managers charged over Flint water
FLINT, Mich. — A criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water turned to former key officials at City Hall on Tuesday as Michigan’s attorney general announced charges against four people accused of keeping residents on a contaminated system that caused the crisis.
Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose separately were state-appointed emergency managers in Flint in 2014-15 when the city was using the Flint River as a source of drinking water. Mr. Ambrose also served earlier as a financial adviser to the troubled town.
They were charged with four crimes, including conspiracy and misconduct in office. Howard Croft, Flint’s former public works director, and Daugherty Johnson, the former utilities director, were charged with conspiracy and false pretenses.
Attorney General Bill Schuette said Mr. Earley and Mr. Ambrose committed Flint to $85 million in bonds to join a new regional water pipeline to Lake Huron while at the same time using a city water plant that was not equipped to properly treat the river water before it went to roughly 100,000 residents.
They claimed that debtburdened Flint needed to sell bonds to clean up a lagoon, Mr. Schuette said, but the money went as the city’s share to Karegnondi Water Authority to build the pipeline, which still is under construction.
“This case is a classic baitand-switch . ... The lime sludge lagoon was not an emergency,” said special prosecutor Todd Flood.
During a news conference, there was no allegation by Mr. Schuette that Mr. Earley and Mr. Ambrose personally gained from the bond deal or by keeping the Flint River as the source of water for Flint while the pipeline was being constructed.
Flint’s water system became contaminated with lead because water from the river wasn’t treated for corrosion for 18 months, from April 2014 to October 2015. The water ate away at a protective coating inside old pipes and fixtures, releasing lead.
“This case is a classic bait-andswitch . ... The lime sludge lagoon was not an emergency.”
Todd Flood Special prosecutor