Flint prosecutors say investigation on track despite earlier statute of limitations warning

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Flint, MI – Leaders of the Flint water crisis prosecution team said in a statement Friday that their investigation remains on track despite an earlier warning about a looming statute of limitations deadline.

April 25 will mark six years since Flint’s water source was switched to the Flint River. Michigan’s criminal law sets a statute of limitations of six years for misdemeanors and of six to 10 years for most felonies.

But Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the statute of limitations won’t be a problem for their investigation.

“April 25, 2014, is a significant date in the history of the Flint Water Crisis. However, we want to correct the misconception that April 25, 2020 is the deadline to bring charges against those who may be criminally liable,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

“Criminal statutes of limitations vary depending on the offense and the date of the alleged criminal act. Though we cannot comment on the specifics of our investigation, we remain on track, and we are delivering on our commitment to the people of Flint.”

The statement is a reversal from a comment the prosecution team made during a town hall in Flint last June, when they said they had just nine months to file charges.

“The statute of limitations runs out in nine months,” Worthy said at the event. “We’re telling you that this is what the law tells us. Most crimes have a statute of limitations. That is why it’s so important from the very beginning to make sure before you start charging folks that you have a proper investigation, so your back is not up against the wall when it comes to the statute of limitations.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel replaced former special prosecutor Todd Flood – who was appointed by former Attorney General Bill Schuette – with Hammoud in January 2019.

Hammoud announce in June 2019 that all pending criminal cases related to the Flint water crisis would be dropped without prejudice, citing new evidence they found as part of an expanded investigation.

Hammoud and Worthy said at the time they “believed the people of Flint deserved expeditious action” but “cannot provide the citizens of Flint the investigation they rightly deserve by continuing to build on a flawed foundation.”

Nessel, who is handling the civil lawsuits related to the Flint water crisis and is not involved in the criminal prosecution, said in a statement that she is “glad to know that their investigation has not been – and will not be – impeded by time or this current public health crisis.”

“It comes as no surprise to me, though, that their commitment to the people of Flint is as strong today as it was the day they took up this important cause,” Nessel said.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, and state Rep. John Cherry, D-Flint, introduced legislation last year to extend the statute of limitations in criminal misconduct cases involving public officials from six years to 10 years.

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