Former Michigan government legislator Rick Snyder, who fled the state at the time of the 2014 devastating water scandal, has been charged with an outbreak of the city’s Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people.
According to online court records, he faces two charges of neglect of duty, and one year in jail and a $ 1,000 fine.
“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against the government,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said Wednesday night.
Other people may also be accused in his administration.
Snyder and others are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, and a news conference is expected to follow by Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors.
The decision by the Snyder administration in 2014 to switch Flint from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River prompted disaster, as pipe corrosion and lead contamination in untreated river water occurred.
Criminal charges were leveled against officials in several states in 2017, including Nick Leon, the former head of the state’s Department of Health, who was at the same time as the contaminated water crisis with an outbreak of Legionnaires disease. Leon was accused of failing to learn about the outbreak in 2015 and informing the public for another year.
Prosecutors dropped charges against eight people, including Leon, in 2019.
Some experts have said that the city’s contaminated water caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in hot water.
The commissioner of Genesee County, Bryant Noldan, who runs a historic recreation center in Flint, celebrated the news that the possible prosecutions would include the former governor.
“The buck stops in the government,” he said. “He was someone who really did that. We have to see how all this is played out, but I’m very happy to hear that some people are being held accountable at the highest level.”
Nolden said that he and his neighbors in Flint were disappointed when the first-round indictments reduced Snyder himself. “I was a little worried that it wouldn’t go up the ladder for him.”
Holding Snyder accountable, he said, the damage in Flint will not be repaired – including the skyrocketing rate of children in need of special education services – but it will improve residents’ morale.
“The residents here are very flexible,” he said. “We’ve made it and we’re working with it, but I think it will help in some small way that they know justice will be served because these people will be held accountable for the mistakes they made here Was. Community. “
Residents of the majority black-populated city of Flint have struggled to overcome the crisis for years because they relied on bottled water for months as their primary source of clean water and damage to property values.
The state agreed in April to a $ 600 million settlement, whose health suffered in a class-action lawsuit, setting up a fund where residents can file for compensation.