According to a report, prosecutors stopped pursuing a blackmail case against public officials over the Flint water crisis

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Flint Waterworks in Flint.  - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

  • Flint Waterworks in Flint.

Prosecutors investigating the Flint water crisis between 2016 and 2018 pursued charges of extortion against public officials whose actions led to the health disaster, according to a new report.

The Guardian reports that prosecutors were considering using a federal law on extortion and anti-organized crime, known as the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Law, against some officials.

But the extortion case never came to fruition after the investigation was taken over by newly elected Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in 2019.

Whether the accusers had a strong case may never be known. The then Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican whose office opened the investigation, ran for governor at the time, and Nessel accused him of being “an opportunist who has used the crisis to advance his political ambitions through a series of poetically charged spectacle processes.”

When Nessel took over the investigation, she fired the leading prosecutors and investigators, dropped charges already filed, and relaunched the investigation with a new team. At the time, Schuette’s team had filed 15 charges against state and city officials in Flint.

Last year, the new investigation led to a new round of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice, misconduct, extortion and perjury.

“Nessel let it go,” said Eric Mays, chairman of Flint City Council The Guardian. “Was there a lack of political or legal will? I cant say that. But it bothers me to this day, her team has not solved it. ”

In a statement to The Guardian, Nessel’s office declined to discuss why her office did not pursue extortion charges.

“The prosecution is reviewing all evidence and prosecuting all viable charges,” the statement read.

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