Millions of documents related to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, some potentially incriminating, have been found in the basement of a government building, Michigan Live reports. The discovery was revealed in a filing by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office in Genesee Circuit Court on Friday.
The filing was submitted by Solicitor General Fadwa A. Hammoud as part of a request for a six-month delay in legal proceedings surrounding the prosecution of former state Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon. While Lyon’s attorney characterized the request as a stalling tactic in a case already moving at a frustratingly slow pace, prosecutors insisted that the request was reasonable considering the sheer volume of new evidence discovered.
“Although the duration of the requested stay is, admittedly, a lengthy one, it is indisputably commensurate with the volume of evidence that has been unknown to (if not withheld from) the People — not to mention the importance of these prosecutions to the citizens of the state of Michigan,” the filing says.
The contents of the trove of documents is potentially explosive, with even a preliminary review revealing potentially incriminating information that could feasibly contribute to prosecutions already underway, if not the introduction of entirely new charges.
“Among the newly discovered evidence is a list of names ominously titled ‘Phones/Wiped,’ along with data from at least one cell phone that the People were told did not exist,” the request says.
The filing indicates that the attorney general’s office received the new records in response to subpoenas served on state officers and agencies, including Lyon, for data that included voicemails, computer hard drives, and audio and video recordings. The filing also claims that the documents should have been delivered in response to an earlier subpoena, but that it was “erroneously represented” that the prosecution already possessed all available materials.
The brief says that although a case could be made for “bad faith concealment” of the documents by either Lyon or his attorneys, the state is not pursuing that allegation currently.
“Simply put, the People issued investigative subpoenas that sought particular materials, and those materials were not provided,” the brief reads.
It’s been five years since we learned about the crisis in Flint, Michigan. And five years later, Flint’s residents still depend on bottled water. This is another reason I believe it’s so critical to invest in our water infrastructure immediately. https://t.co/XO0IzScUd0— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) April 26, 2019
The document discovery is part of a trial evaluating potential culpability for Flint’s headline-dominating public water crisis. Prosecutors contend that Lyon is responsible for the deaths of Robert Skidmore and John Snyder, two men whose deaths have been attributed to Legionnaires’ disease related to the water crisis. For his role, Lyon currently faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter.