Four more officials were charged Tuesday in connection with the Flint, Michigan, water crisis that resulted in a surge of lead poisoning among children.
Two former Michigan state emergency managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, face multiple 20-year felonies for failing to protect Flint citizens from health hazards caused by the contaminated drinking water, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced. Former city of Flint executives Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson also face felony charges.
"The people are Flint are not expendable," Schuette said in a press conference Tuesday. "People who broke the law must be held accountable."
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The allegations stem from a stunning spike in lead among Flint's children after the bankrupt city switched its water supply from the Detroit Water Authority to the Flint Water System, which pulls water from the corrosive Flint River.
The river water leached away protective coating inside the water pipes, leading to a dangerous level of lead, which can have permanent consequences on developing brain cells, in the water supply. Months went by before anyone warned the public.
Tuesday's charges bring to 13 the number of former state and local officials who face criminal counts in the investigation. This is the third round of charges; Schuette has also filed civil lawsuits against water supply engineering firms.
"All too prevalent in this Flint Water Investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint," Schuette said in a statement announcing the new batch of charges. "The crisis in Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and a failure of management. An absence of accountability. We will proceed to deliver justice and hold those accountable who broke the law."