Flint water case dismissed against fired state official

FLINT (AP) - A judge dismissed a misdemeanor charge Wednesday and closed a criminal case against a state official who was fired as head of Michigan's drinking water office during the Flint water scandal.

Liane Shekter Smith's 2019 deal with a special prosecutor called for her no-contest plea to be erased after a year if she cooperated with investigators.

Fadwa Hammoud of the attorney general's office, who took over the Flint water investigation after Shekter Smith's deal, said she had to honor it.

"This plea deal like others given by the previous special counsel allows the defendant to walk away without a blemish, without anything on her record," Hammoud said.

Flint's water was contaminated with lead when the city switched sources in 2014 and didn't treat water to reduce corrosion. State regulators were accused of ignoring residents' complaints and evidence of lead.

Shekter Smith had pleaded no contest to an obscure misdemeanor: disturbance of a lawful meeting. Earlier she had been charged with misconduct in office and neglect of duty and threatened with involuntary manslaughter. But those counts were dropped by Hammoud's predecessor, Todd Flood.

Shekter Smith declined to comment. Her attorney, Brian Morley, has said criminal charges against her didn't fit.

"I understand the frustration. I understand what happened here," he said Wednesday. "But you have to make sure that it's the right people who are punished for it."

Published: Fri, Jan 10, 2020