Michigan filed the first criminal charges Wednesday in the scandal over lead contamination of the city of Flint's water supply, accusing a city official and two state regulators of altering test results and tampering with evidence.
State attorney general Bill Schuette said the three knowingly misled local, state and federal officials about lead levels in the Flint water supply.
More than 8,000 children are believed to have drunk the tainted city water, which unbeknownst to the public had soaring lead levels for months before it was discovered.
"So many things went so terribly wrong and tragically wrong in Flint," Schuette said in announcing felony and misdemeanor charges against state regulators Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby and Flint utilities administrator Michael Glasgow.
The charges, which carry up to five years in prison, were the first produced by the state and federal probes launched after the high lead levels were disclosed by citizen activists in October 2015.
The trouble stemmed from a decision to shift Flint's water source from the Detroit River to the Flint River as part of cost-cutting measures ordered by Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.).
Experts believe the chemical-laced Flint River water corroded lead pipes, allowing large amounts of the chemical element to leach into the city's water.
Schuette accused Busch and Prysby of "intentionally tampering with evidence of lead levels on certain water samples in homes of residents of Flint.
"We allege and we'll prove that Mr Busch and Mr Prysby altered test results which endangered the health of families and citizens of flint," he said.
Prysby received an additional felony charge of authorizing the operation of the Flint water treatment center "knowing that the plant would fail to provide clean and safe drinking water to families of Flint."
"They had a duty to protect the health of families and citizens of Flint. They failed, they failed to discharge their duties," he said.
Glasgow, a supervisor at the Flint water treatment plant, was charged with "felony tampering with evidence by falsifying and altering reports" to the state's Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
He also received a misdemeanor charge of "willful neglect of duty."