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Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder charged in Flint water crisis – NBC News

former-michigan-gov.-rick-snyder-charged-in-flint-water-crisis-–-nbc-news

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who ran the state at the time of the devastating 2014 Flint water scandal, has been charged in the city’s Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people.

He faces two charges of willful neglect of duty, according to online court records, and faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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

Requests for comment by NBC News from Lennon were not immediately returned.

Others in his administration may also be charged.

Snyder and others are scheduled to appear in court Thursday, and a news conference by Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors is expected to follow.

The decision by Snyder’s administration in 2014 to switch Flint from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River led to the disaster, as the untreated river water resulted in pipe corrosion and lead contamination.

Criminal charges were filed in 2017 against a number of state officials, including the former head of the state’s health department, Nick Lyon, over the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the same time as the contaminated water crisis. Lyon was accused of learning about the outbreak in 2015 and failing to inform the public for another year.

Prosecutors dropped charges against eight people, including Lyon, in 2019.

Some experts have said that the city’s contaminated water led to the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrives in warm water.

Bryant Nolden, a Genesee County Commissioner who runs a historic recreation center in Flint, celebrated the news that possible indictments would include the former governor.

“The buck stopped at Gov. Snyder,” he said. “He was the one that put the people in place that actually did this. We have to see how this all plays out, but I’m very happy to hear that some folks are going to be held accountable at the highest level.”

Nolden said he and his neighbors in Flint were disappointed when earlier rounds of indictments stopped short of Snyder himself. “I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t go all the way up the ladder to him.”

Seeing Snyder held accountable, he said, won’t repair the damage done in Flint — including skyrocketing rates of children needing special education services — but it will improve morale among residents.

“The residents here are very resilient,” he said. “We’ve made it through and we’re dealing with it but I think that this will help in some small way, letting them know that justice will be served because these people will be held accountable for the wrongs that they did here in this community.”

Residents in Flint, a city with a majority Black-population, have struggled for years to recover from the crisis as they relied for months on bottled water as their primary source of clean water and saw property values suffer.

The state agreed to a $600 million settlement in April to Flint residents whose health was afflicted in a class-action lawsuit, establishing a fund where residents can file for compensation.

Image: Doha MadaniDoha Madani

Doha Madani is a breaking news reporter for NBC News. 

Erin Einhorn

Erin Einhorn is a national reporter for NBC News, based in Detroit. 

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