Defendants in Flint Water Crisis Case Offered Chance to Return to Work Following Suspension

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Five Michigan government workers who were charged in crimes stemming from the Flint Water Crisis have been handed offers to return to work.

The move comes more than a week after the Michigan Attorney General’s Office moved to dismiss pending criminal charges in the saga that began in 2014.

Freddie Fisher, 63, of Flint, Michigan, dances while holding a bottle of water in response to remarks during a City Council meeting at Flint City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The meeting introduced a discussion about whether residents should have to pay for their water bills and how funds should be allocated to take on the costs. (Photo: Brittany Greeson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott, Patrick Cook, Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch had been on paid suspensions after being charged three years ago by then-Attorney General Bill Schuette, according to The Detroit News.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin told the newspaper that the departments were sending Peeler and Scott letters or emails inviting them to return to work as soon as Monday, July 1.

“They can choose whether or not to return to work,” she said. “If they choose not to return, it would be treated like a resignation.”

Peeler and Scott, both state officials, were under investigation for covering up a 2015 internal report on data regarding the blood lead levels in children residing in Flint.

Cook, Prysby and Busch, who are environmental regulators, each had charges against them handled in varying ways.

Charges against Cook, a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy specialist, were dropped last week. The indictments included conspiracy, willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office. Meanwhile, Prysby and Busch previously had pleaded no contest to misdemeanors in plea agreements with the state that put an end to the cases filed against them. Prysby and Busch have remained suspended during that time period, ML Live reported.

EGLE spokesman Scott Dean said “efforts are underway to coordinate dates” for Busch, Prysby and Cook to resume working.

This development follows the surprising move made this month by Attorney General Dana Nessel more than four years after the drinking water source in Flint was switched to a cheaper source and led to thousands of people being exposed to contaminated water. Although Nessel dropped the charges against the eight total defendants in the case, that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear.

Charges being dropped makes way for cases to be refiled pending a deeper probe. Nessel said the previous investigation had been fatally mishandled by its then-prosecutors.

“Justice delayed is not always justice denied,” Nessel wrote in a statement regarding the decision.

She added, “a fearless and dedicated team of career prosecutors and investigators are hard at work to ensure those who harmed you are held accountable.”

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