Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and ex-officials have been told they are being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water crisis, reported AP News.
The Flint water crisis contaminated water with lead and that devastated the city, according to the city’s website.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed two charges of willful neglect of duty against former Gov. Rick Snyder, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Genesee County District Court records show the charges stem from an alleged offense on Apr. 25, 2014, which is the day Flint began using the Flint River as its new water source. Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said she could not confirm or deny the charges, reported the Detroit Free Press.
The attorney general’s office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon, reported two anonymous sources to the AP.
The nature of the charges against Snyder could not be determined, according to the AP.
The charges are also against former health department director Nick Lyon, former top Snyder aide Richard Baird, former Flint Department of Public Works Director Howard Croft, and more, according to Lennon, reported the Detroit Free Press.
Ven Johnson, a metro Detroit attorney, told the Detroit Free Press that convicting Snyder will be an uphill battle and that the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt will be a high bar for prosecutors under state Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Snyder was governor when state-appointed managers in Flint switched the city’s water to the Flint River in 2014. Since the water was not treated to reduce corrosion, lead leached from old pipes and spoiled the distribution system used by nearly 100,000 residents.
According to Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon in a statement released, a criminal prosecution would be “outrageous” and that state prosecutors have refused to “share information about these charges with us,” reported the AP.
Bacteria in the water was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the time as well. The outbreak was officially announced by Snyder and Lyon in January 2016, but Lyon conceded that he knew that cases were being reported many months earlier, according to the Detroit Free Press.