Former Flint officials appear in court for probable cause hearin - WNEM TV 5

Former Flint officials appear in court for probable cause hearing on water crisis charges

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Major cases in the Flint water crisis moved forward Monday morning as four former top city officials returned to court.

Their charges range from involuntary manslaughter to false pretenses and willful neglect of duty.

Attorneys representing the four officials accused of wrongdoing in the Flint water crisis met in district court to hash out details before a hearing that will determine whether charges filed by State Attorney General Bill Schuette will stick.

Special counsel Todd Flood is seeking to consolidate cases with others that are being held in other courtrooms. He said it's a way to save time and money.

"This is a probable cause hearing. You know, probable cause if a crime was committed, probable cause if a person committed it. It's not the trial and the fact that we have the probable cause conference is to speed things up, make consolidations when necessary," Flood said.

Former city of Flint Director of Public Works Howard Croft and former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley both face new charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Croft is accused of pressuring the Flint Water Plant's operator to start using Flint River water, leading to the water crisis and a deadly legionella outbreak in 2015.

Croft maintains his innocence.

Croft's attorney asked the judge to limit Flood's ability to share information in this case, accusing Flood and the Attorney General's Office of releasing information last week that was meant to paint his client in a negative light.

"It serves no public interest at that point in time other than to inflame the community, which it did," said James White, Croft's attorney.

White said he doesn't understand why he is being singled out as part of Schuette's investigation.

"He's very confused to some degree as to why he's been targeted as a result of this investigation," White said. "He's a member of the Flint community. He's a family man. He's never had any problems with the law and as much as he doesn't like being a part of all of this, he's very much looking forward to defending his name and being cleared of these charges."

Attorneys representing former Director of Public Works Daugherty Johnson and former Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose were also in court requesting access to documents held by the prosecution.

Johnson and Ambrose both face charges including false pretenses.

Judge Nathaniel Perry said he expected attorneys for the state Department of Health and Human Services officials Nick Lyon and Eden Wells to also be present, but they didn't show up.

"They probably got crossed up in confusion with document, but it was my understanding that everyone was supposed to be here today," Flood said.

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