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Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder And 8 Others Criminally Charged In Flint Water Crisis

Former Gov. Rick Snyder, seen in 2017, was one of several current and former officials charged by state prosecutors for their role in the lead contamination of drinking water in Flint.

Sean Proctor/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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The Michigan Attorney General’s Office Thursday announced criminal charges for eight former state officials, including the state’s former Gov. Rick Snyder, along with one current official, for their alleged roles in the Flint water crisis.

Together the group face 42 counts related to the drinking water catastrophe roughly seven years ago. The crimes range from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter.

The drinking water debacle is linked to at least 12 deaths and at least 80 people sickened with Legionnaires’ disease after untreated water from the Flint River caused lead to leach from old pipes, poisoning the majority Black city’s water system.

Snyder, a Republican who left office two years ago, is facing two counts of willful neglect, both misdemeanors which each carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine up to $1,000.

The attorney general’s announcement cites other charges as follows:

Jarrod Agen – Former Director of Communications and Former Chief of Staff, Executive Office of Gov. Rick Snyder

  • One count of perjury – a 15-year felony  

Gerald Ambrose – Former City of Flint Emergency Manager

  • Four counts of misconduct in office – each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

Richard Baird – Former Transformation Manager and Senior Adviser, Executive Office of Gov. Snyder

  • One count of perjury – a 15-year felony
  • One count of official misconduct in office – a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine
  • One count of obstruction of justice – a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine
  • One count of extortion – a 20-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

Howard Croft – Former Director of the City of Flint Department of Public Works

  • Two counts of willful neglect of duty – each a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine 

Darnell Earley – Former City of Flint Emergency Manager

  • Three counts of misconduct in office – each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine 

Nicolas Lyon – Former Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

  • Nine counts of involuntary manslaughter – each a 15-year felony and/or $7,500 fine 
  • One count of willful neglect of duty – a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine 

Nancy Peeler – Current Early Childhood Health Section Manager, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

  • Two counts of misconduct in office – each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine
  • One count of willful neglect of duty – a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine

Eden Wells – Former Chief Medical Executive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

  • Nine counts of involuntary manslaughter – each a 15-year felony and/or $7,500 fine
  • Two counts of misconduct in office – each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine
  • One count of willful neglect of duty – a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine

Prosecutors said all of the defendants turned themselves into the Genesee County, Mich., jail and were processed.

At the media briefing announcing the charges, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the investigation included pouring over “literally millions and millions of documents and several electronic devices.” She added it also involved dozens of search warrants and countless hours worked by investigators during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our work on this case begins with the understanding that the impact of the Flint water crisis cases and what happened in Flint will span generations and probably well beyond,” she said.

Worthy, a Democrat, also sought to push back on questions whether the criminal charges brought by current Michigan officials were influenced by politics.

“This case has nothing whatsoever to do with partisanship,” Worthy said. “It has to do with human decency, resurrecting the complete abandonment of the people of Flint and finally, finally holding people accountable for their alleged unspeakable atrocities that occurred in Flint all these years ago.”

Earlier this week, as reports began to surface that charges were looming, an attorney for Snyder, the former governor, referred to them as “a politically motivated smear campaign,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press also reported Snyder entered a not guilty plea Thursday morning from a Genesee County jail booth as he and his lawyer appeared remotely via Zoom. The paper also notes its the first time in the state’s history that a current or former governor is facing criminal charges for alleged misconduct while in office.

In this image taken from video, former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, left, with his lawyer, Brian Lennon, leave Genesee County Court in Flint, Mich., after a initial court appearance via Zoom on two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty in connection to the Flint water crisis.

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Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud said Thursday that even though charges have been filed, the investigation into the crisis remains open, Michigan Public Radio reports.

Speaking at the media briefing, Hammoud characterized the crisis as a “categorical failure of public officials” at all levels.

“When an entire city is victimized by the negligence and indifference of those in power, it deserves an uncompromising investigation that holds to account anyone who is criminally culpable,” Hammoud said.

Snyder and Croft, the former director of the Flint Department of Public Works, are scheduled to be back in court Jan. 19.

The next court appearance for the other defendants is Feb. 18, according to Michigan Attorney General’s office.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley backs charging ex-Michigan governor over water crisis

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty in connection to the 2014 Flint water crisis. Snyder faces up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley joins CBSN to discuss the charges and efforts to help residents in his city.


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Flint looks for justice as ex-governor charged in water crisis

Flint, Mich.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and a top state health official have been charged regarding their roles in the deadly water crisis that gripped Flint, Michigan, for years starting in 2014.

Michigan’s former health director was charged Thursday with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who contracted Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis as prosecutors are revisiting how Flint’s water system was contaminated with lead during one of worst human-made environmental disasters in United States history.

Nick Lyon pleaded not guilty during an appearance in a Genesee County court. Moments later, his old boss, Mr. Snyder, also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty in Flint.

They were among several people summoned to court to face charges, the result of a renewed 19-month investigation launched by the attorney general’s office after Dana Nessel, a Democrat, was elected.

Families in Flint welcomed the news after learning on Tuesday that the former governor and others in his administration will be charged in a water crisis blamed with causing learning disabilities in scores of children and other medical problems among adults in the majority Black city about 60 miles northwest of Detroit.

“I literally could have cried,” said Ariana Hawk. She noticed something wasn’t right with the family’s tap water when her son, Sincere Smith, was 2 years old. Sometimes the water they drank and used for cooking and bathing was discolored. More concerning was when it gushed out brown.

It wasn’t just her home, but all across the former manufacturing hub that for decades had turned out some of the best cars and trucks produced by U.S. automakers.

Residents had been complaining about the discolored discharge as early as 2014 after the financially strapped city – while under state oversight – switched from water pumped from Detroit to the Flint River to save money.

State and some city officials insisted the water was safe to use – until a group of doctors in September 2015 urged Flint to change its water source after finding high levels of lead in children’s blood.

The water, it turned out, had not been treated to reduce corrosion – causing the toxic metal to leach from old pipes and spoil the distribution system used by nearly 100,000 residents. The water also was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, where authorities counted at least 90 cases, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there was not enough chlorine in Flint’s water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.

Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

In the Hawk household, rashes had started to spread over Sincere’s body. The boy’s pediatrician pointed to the city’s water as the cause.

Sincere would become the face of the Flint water crisis when a photo of him was selected in 2016 for the cover of Time magazine.

Flint has since returned to water from Detroit’s system and has replaced more than 9,700 lead service lines, but scars remain – some visible, others psychological.

For Sincere, now 7, and his siblings, water from taps can elicit fear similar to the boogeyman or dark closets.

While visiting their grandmother’s home in Florida, Sincere was hesitant about the water, Ms. Hawk told The Associated Press.

“I told him ‘It’s not Flint. Y’all can drink it,’” Ms. Hawk said. “But they’ve been normalized to drinking bottled water because they can’t drink our water. Flint kids are traumatized.”

The charges against Mr. Snyder carry up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction. No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist.

“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Governor Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said Wednesday night, adding that prosecutors still hadn’t provided him with any details.

Mr. Snyder, a Republican, was governor from 2011 through 2018. The former computer executive pitched himself as a problem-solving “nerd” who eschewed partisan politics and favored online dashboards to show performance in government. Flint turned out to be the worst chapter of his two terms due to a series of catastrophic decisions that will affect residents for years.

The date of Mr. Snyder’s alleged crimes in Flint is listed as April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early, who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.

Prosecutors also charged Mr. Earley with two felony counts of misconduct in office Thursday. He pleaded not guilty.

“They poisoned the whole city,” Roy Fields Sr. said of officials elected and appointed to make sure residents were safe. “At first, we thought all we had to do was boil the water and be OK,” Mr. Fields said Wednesday. “We cooked with it, drank it, and when we heard about the problems with it, we stopped in 2014, but it was too late.”

He wants someone brought to justice.

“They talk about jail time,” Mr. Fields said. “But that does no good. Let them come back in here and work to help educate and do what they can to make this community whole. I was hostile. I had to forgive them in order to move forward.”

The news of charges “is a salve, but it isn’t the end of the story,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician who helped call attention to childhood health risks from Flint’s water.

“Without justice, it’s impossible to heal the scars of the crisis,” Ms. Hanna-Attisha said Wednesday in a statement. “Healing wounds and restoring trust will take decades and long-term resources.”

Ms. Hawk is skeptical that charges will lead to accountability. Even if there are convictions, who will repair the emotional trauma?

“I don’t want to give up on the young people who don’t have a voice,” she said. “And Sincere, I want him to know that he did something good, that he was brave putting his story out there. I don’t want him to feel like a victim. I tell him now that when he gets older to say, ‘Yeah, I’m the little boy that was on Time magazine that opened the eyes to America to what was happening in the city of Flint.’”

Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital, and an engineering firm have agreed to a $641 million settlement with residents over the water crisis, with $600 million coming from Michigan. A judge said she hopes to decide by Jan. 21 whether to grant preliminary approval. Other lawsuits, including one against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are pending.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. Stafford, an investigative reporter on AP’s Race and Ethnicity team, and White reported from Detroit. David Eggert reported from Lansing, Michigan. Corey Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan. AP writer Ed White in Detroit also contributed.

Ex-governor, 8 former Michigan officials charged in Flint water crisis

Nine former Michigan officials, including ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, were charged Thursday for their roles in the Flint water crisis in a case one prosecutor said was about “finally, finally, finally holding people accountable.”

Snyder, 62, and eight others who worked under him face a host of charges stemming from a water supply switch in 2014 that exposed Flint residents to dangerous levels of lead and Legionnaires’ disease.

“Let me start by saying the Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud told reporters. “At this very moment the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government who trampled upon their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.”

State Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to investigate the case, throwing out earlier charges brought by her predecessor, Bill Schuette.

Nessel is a Democrat and Schuette, a Republican like Snyder, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2016.

“This case has nothing whatsoever to do with partisanship,” Worthy said. “It has to do with human decency, the complete abandonment of the people of Flint and finally, finally, finally holding people accountable.”

“Pure and simple,” she added, “this case is about justice, truth, accountability, poisoned children, lost lives, shattered families that are still not whole and simply giving a damn about all of humanity.”

Earlier Thursday, during a virtual appearance before Genesee County Judge Christopher Odette, Snyder pleaded not guilty to the two misdemeanor chargers.

Odette set bond at $10,000 and ordered Snyder not to travel outside Michigan until at least his next court date, set for Tuesday.

The former two-term governor spoke to the judge from a booth inside the county jail, where he wore a mask and sat next to his defense lawyer, Brian Lennon.

Lennon called the case against Snyder “flimsy,” and said that “this entire situation is puzzling.”

“It would be a travesty to waste additional taxpayer dollars pursuing these bogus misdemeanor charges,” he said in a statement.

Michigan’s former health director, Nick Lyon, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who got Legionnaires’ disease. He also pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

The other state officials charged were:

  • Former Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr.Eden Wells, also charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, along with two counts of misconduct in office and one for willful neglect of duty.

  • Richard Baird, who worked as a senior advisor to Gov. Snyder, charged with perjury, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and extortion.

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former communications director, accused of perjury connected to his testimony to state prosecutors.

  • Darnell Earley, charged with two counts of misconduct in office based on his work as a state-appointed emergency manager in Flint.

  • Another former emergency manager, Gerald Ambrose, charged with multiple counts of misconduct in office.

  • Howard Croft, Flint’s former director of public works, charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

  • Nancy Peeler, once the manager for early childhood section within Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, charged with two counts of misconduct in office and one for willful neglect of duty.

Residents of the majority-Black city of Flint have struggled for years to recover as they relied on bottled water as their primary source of clean water and their property values suffered.

Today, tests show that Flint’s water is safe to drink but many residents, skeptical of government officials, say they still don’t trust the city’s water.

The Snyder administration in 2014 switched Flint from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. That move proved disastrous, exposing Flint residents to lead contamination from the new supply’s untreated river water.

Michigan agreed to a $600 million settlement in August in a class-action lawsuit with Flint residents whose health was affected, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.


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8 former Michigan officials criminally charged along with ex-governor in Flint water crisis

Nine former Michigan officials, including ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, were criminally charged in what prosecutors on Thursday called “finally holding people accountable” for the Flint water crisis.

Snyder, 62, and eight others who worked under him are now facing a host of charges stemming from a water supply switch in 2014 that exposed Flint residents to dangerous levels of lead and Legionnaires’ disease.

“Let me start by saying the Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud told reporters.

“At this very moment the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government who trampled upon their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel appointed Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy to investigate the case, throwing out earlier charges brought by her predecessor, Bill Schuette.

Nessel is a Democrat and Schuette, a Republican like Snyder, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2016.

“This case has nothing whatsoever to do with partisanship, it has to do with human decency, the complete abandonment of the people of Flint and finally, finally, finally holding people accountable,” said Worthy.

“Pure and simple, this case is about justice, truth, accountability, poisoned children, lost lives, shattered families that are still not whole and simply giving a damn about all of humanity.”

Earlier Thursday, during a virtual appearance before Genesee County Judge Christopher Odette, Snyder pleaded not guilty to the two misdemeanor chargers.

Odette set bond at $10,000 and ordered Snyder not to travel outside Michigan until at least his next court date, set for Tuesday.

The former two-term governor spoke to the judge from a booth inside the Genesee County jail, where he wore a mask and sat next to his defense lawyer, Brian Lennon.

The five-minute-long arraignment was highly procedural as Snyder acknowledged the charges against him and agreed to terms of his release.

“The two misdemeanor charges filed today against former Gov. Rick Snyder are wholly without merit and this entire situation is puzzling,” said Snyder’s defense lawyer Brian Lennon said in a statement.

“It would be a travesty to waste additional taxpayer dollars pursuing these bogus misdemeanor charges. We are confident Gov. Snyder will be fully exonerated if this flimsy case goes to trial.”

Michigan’s former health director, Nick Lyon, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who got Legionnaires’ disease. He pleaded not guilty during an appearance in a Genesee County court on Thursday, ahead of Gov. Snyder’s appearance.

Residents of the majority-Black city of Flint have struggled for years to recover from the crisis as they relied for on bottled water as their primary source of clean water and their property values suffered.

Today, tests show that Flint’s water is safe to drink but many residents, skeptical of government officials, say they still don’t trust the city’s water.

The Snyder administration in 2014 switched Flint from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. That move proved disastrous, exposing Flint residents to lead contamination from the new supply’s untreated river water.

Michigan agreed to a $600 million settlement in August in a class-action lawsuit with Flint residents whose health was affected, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

This is a developing story, please check here for updates.


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Ex-Michigan governor faces 2 charges in Flint water scandal

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Two years after leaving office, former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing charges of willful neglect of duty in the Flint water crisis as prosecutors revisit how the city’s water system was contaminated with lead during one of worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Two misdemeanors popped up in an online court file Wednesday night after Attorney General Dana Nessel and her prosecutors announced a Thursday news conference to discuss their findings. Former officials who worked in Snyder’s administration are also expected to be charged and appear in court Thursday.

“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Gov. Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said, adding that prosecutors still hadn’t provided him with any details.

The charges against Snyder carry up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction. No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist.

Snyder, a Republican, was governor from 2011 through 2018. The former computer executive pitched himself as a problem-solving “nerd” who eschewed partisan politics and favored online dashboards to show performance in government. Flint turned out to be the worst chapter of his two terms due to a series of catastrophic decisions that will affect residents for years.

The date of Snyder’s alleged crimes in Flint is listed as April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.

The corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes.

Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later.

“I’m sorry and I will fix it,” Snyder promised during his 2016 State of the State speech.

Authorities also counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there was not enough chlorine in Flint’s water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.

Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

The criminal investigation has lasted five years under two teams of prosecutors. Todd Flood, who got misdemeanor convictions from seven people, was ousted in 2019 after the election of Nessel, a Democrat. Fadwa Hammoud subsequently dropped charges in eight pending cases and said the investigation would start over. She said the first team had failed to collect all available evidence.

Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital and an engineering firm have agreed to a $641 million settlement with residents over the water crisis, with $600 million coming from Michigan. A judge said she hopes to decide by Jan. 21 whether to grant preliminary approval. Other lawsuits, including one against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are pending.

___

White reported from Detroit.


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Ex-Michigan governor facing neglect charges for Flint water crisis

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is being charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty stemming from the Flint water crisis, according to online court documents. The crisis, which began in 2014, left the city of Flint’s drinking water contaminated with lead and some have blamed it for a 2016 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed at least 12 people.

Neglect of duty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000.

Brian Lennon, an attorney representing Snyder, told CBS News, “We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Governor Snyder.”

“We have asked the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of Special Counsel for a copy of or at least confirmation of the charges ahead of tomorrow’s arraignment, and she has not yet provided us with either,” Lennon said. “It’s difficult for us to comment on something we have not yet seen.”

Howard Croft, Flint’s former Department of Public Works director, is also facing two counts of willful neglect of duty, according to court documents. Croft’s attorney confirmed the charges to CBS News on Wednesday night, and said he will turn himself in at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Jamie White, an attorney representing Croft, told CBS News on Tuesday they were told to expect charges, but were not informed what the charges would be.

White insisted Croft did nothing wrong, saying, “The idea that because he was the city works manager, and therefore knew the water was contaminated and did nothing about it, is just not supported by the facts.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy are scheduled to speak at a press conference Thursday morning to announce the outcome of the state’s criminal investigation into the crisis.

Representatives for Rich Baird, a former aid to Snyder, also confirmed they were told to expect charges.

An attorney for former health director Nick Lyon would not confirm if Lyon was told to expect charges, but told CBS News any charges filed against his client would be “an absolute travesty of justice.”

Lyon had previously been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crisis stemming from an investigation that began while Snyder was still in office. The charges against Lyon and several other officials were abruptly dropped in 2019 and a new investigation began under Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The crisis began in 2014, when the city of Flint switched its water source from treated water from Detroit to the Flint River in an effort to save money. The city failed to treat the water properly, which caused excess amounts of lead to leach from old pipes into the water and be pumped directly into Flint homes.

According to The Associated Press, authorities found 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, where Flint is located, including 12 deaths. Some experts determined the water-treatment system lacked enough chlorine to control legionella bacteria.

However, legal representatives for Lyon dispute the cause of the outbreak. They noted a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions that found evidence that the same strain of legionella bacteria has been infecting people at a local hospital since 2008, well before the city changed its water source.

According to Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, the replacement of household water service lines is “nearly complete.” Of the 26,750 lines that have been excavated, fewer than 500 are left to be checked, Neeley said in a statement.

Adam Brewster, Sarah Barth, Adriana Diaz, Zoe Christen Jones, Jordan Freiman and The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder facing neglect charges over Flint water crisis

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is being charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty stemming from the Flint water crisis, according to online court documents. The crisis, which began in 2014, left the city of Flint’s drinking water contaminated with lead and some have blamed it for a 2016 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed at least 12 people.

Neglect of duty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000.

Brian Lennon, an attorney representing Snyder, told CBS News, “We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Governor Snyder.”

“We have asked the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of Special Counsel for a copy of or at least confirmation of the charges ahead of tomorrow’s arraignment, and she has not yet provided us with either,” Lennon said. “It’s difficult for us to comment on something we have not yet seen.”

Howard Croft, Flint’s former Department of Public Works director, is also facing two counts of willful neglect of duty, according to court documents. Croft’s attorney confirmed the charges to CBS News on Wednesday night, and said he will turn himself in at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Jamie White, an attorney representing Croft, told CBS News on Tuesday they were told to expect charges, but were not informed what the charges would be.

White insisted Croft did nothing wrong, saying, “The idea that because he was the city works manager, and therefore knew the water was contaminated and did nothing about it, is just not supported by the facts.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy are scheduled to speak at a press conference Thursday morning to announce the outcome of the state’s criminal investigation into the crisis.

Representatives for Rich Baird, a former aid to Snyder, also confirmed they were told to expect charges.

An attorney for former health director Nick Lyon would not confirm if Lyon was told to expect charges, but told CBS News any charges filed against his client would be “an absolute travesty of justice.”

Lyon had previously been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crisis stemming from an investigation that began while Snyder was still in office. The charges against Lyon and several other officials were abruptly dropped in 2019 and a new investigation began under Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The crisis began in 2014, when the city of Flint switched its water source from treated water from Detroit to the Flint River in an effort to save money. The city failed to treat the water properly, which caused excess amounts of lead to leach from old pipes into the water and be pumped directly into Flint homes.

According to The Associated Press, authorities found 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, where Flint is located, including 12 deaths. Some experts determined the water-treatment system lacked enough chlorine to control legionella bacteria.

However, legal representatives for Lyon dispute the cause of the outbreak. They noted a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions that found evidence that the same strain of legionella bacteria has been infecting people at a local hospital since 2008, well before the city changed its water source.

According to Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, the replacement of household water service lines is “nearly complete.” Of the 26,750 lines that have been excavated, fewer than 500 are left to be checked, Neeley said in a statement.

Adam Brewster, Sarah Barth, Adriana Diaz, Zoe Christen Jones, Jordan Freiman and The Associated Press contributed reporting.


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Ex.-Michigan Gov. Snyder charged in Flint water crisis

By David Eggert and Ed White | Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. — Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday with willful neglect of duty after an investigation of ruinous decisions that left Flint with lead-contaminated water and a regional outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

The charges, revealed in an online court record, are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The charges are groundbreaking: No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist.

“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Gov. Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said Wednesday night, adding that state prosecutors still hadn’t provided him with any details.

Lennon said Tuesday that a criminal case would be “outrageous.” Snyder and others were scheduled to appear in court Thursday, followed by a news conference by Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors.

Besides Snyder, a Republican who was governor from 2011 through 2018, charges are expected against other people, including former officials who served as his state health director and as a senior adviser.

The alleged offense date is April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.

The corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later.

“I’m sorry and I will fix it,” Snyder promised during his 2016 State of the State speech.

Authorities counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there was not enough chlorine in the water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.

The disaster made Flint a national symbol of government dereliction, with residents forced to line up for bottled water and parents fearing their children had suffered permanent harm. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

More than 9,700 lead service lines at homes have been replaced. Flint’s water, which now comes from a Detroit regional agency, gets good marks, although many distrustful residents still use filters.

The criminal investigation has lasted five years under two teams of prosecutors. Todd Flood, who got misdemeanor convictions from seven people, was ousted in 2019 after the election of Nessel, a Democrat.

Fadwa Hammoud subsequently dropped charges in eight pending cases and said the investigation would start over. She said the first team had failed to collect all available evidence.

Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital and an engineering firm have agreed to a $641 million settlement with residents over the water crisis, with $600 million coming from Michigan. A judge said she hopes to decide by Jan. 21 whether to grant preliminary approval. Other lawsuits, including one against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are pending.


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Author: The Associated Press