Yves here. Yet more confirmation that the elites, even low level elites, are a protected class, and crimes versus black/largely black communities are treated as less serious than those against largely white and/or more affluent populations. Imagine what would have happened if you had had the same level of water contamination in, say, San Francisco or Darien, Connecticut. First, the locals would have gotten serious investigations of what was happening way sooner. And being of a higher social class than the water officials, the locals would have successfully strung the parties in charge up.
Now we have the appearance that the party in question, Corrine Miller, copped a plea bargain, pleading guilty for the supposedly lesser offense of covering up for the role of the Flint’s water in Legionnaire’s disease death, in return for help on the lead-related case. But (and experts like Sluggeux please pipe up), my understanding is that sentencing breaks for cooperation are based not merely on the fact of cooperation, but of the cooperation being substantively valuable (like giving important depositions or testimony). Miller was not one of the named main targets, who are Mike Glasgow, Flint’s former laboratory and water quality supervisor and two state official, Mike Prysby and Stephen Busch.
On the one hand, flipping lower level officials to go after the big dogs is a classic prosecution strategy. But on the other (and this may be a gap in the reporting, not in the actual deal-making), the prosecution seems to be going awfully slowly, which is never a good sign for prosecutors and plaintiffs. And more specifically, my impression is that there are usually carve-outs in cooperation deals, whereby if the party ceases being helpful, other charges may be levied. I don’t see any sign that that happened here.
Originally published at Grist
This former official dodged jail time in the Flint water crisis, just has to write an apology letter.
A Michigan district court judge ordered that Corinne Miller, the former director of epidemiology at the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, publicly apologize to the residents of Flint for withholding information about the presence of the Legionella bacteria, the microbe that causes Legionnaires’ disease, in the city’s drinking water.
After pleading no contest to a charge of neglect, Miller also got a year’s probation and 300 hours of community service — essentially a slap on the wrist. She is cooperating with special prosecutors pursuing cases against several former employees of the health department and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality for their role in Flint’s water crisis.
Twelve Flint residents were confirmed to have died in 2014 and 2015 from Legionnaires’ disease, an extreme type of pneumonia. But in January, statistics released by Genesee County, where Flint is located, appeared to confirm public health experts’ suspicions that the city’s water in fact caused additional pneumonia deaths.
Miller’s attorney argued against her having to make a public mea culpa, but Judge Jennifer J. Manley said the demand was “perfectly appropriate in this case.” Considering that even more people were sickened than previously believed, it’s the least she could do.