The former governor of Michigan, Republican Rick Snyder, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in connection to the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, online court records show.

The charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to The Associated Press. Snyder’s health director and other former officials are also expected to be charged.

The 2014 water crisis highlighted ongoing, dangerous exposure of children and others in the city of nearly 100,000 to the neurotoxin in drinking water, and the failures of officials on all levels to adequately protect local families at the time. At the time, city residents were exposed to high lead levels after officials switched the city to a new water source without sufficiently treating it first.

Flint switched its public water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to reduce costs during a financial crisis. The corrosive river water caused lead to leach from pipes, and months after the switch the city said they had detected fecal coliform bacteria (E.coli) in the water supply.

The contamination caused an outbreak of bacteria-caused Legionnaires’ disease, which killed 12 people, despite the city switching back to Lake Huron water the next year. Dozens more were hospitalized.

According to court records, more than 25,000 people have reported being harmed through exposure to contaminants in Flint, including lead and bacteria. Others have said they have experienced ailments such as rashes and hair loss.

Snyder served as Michigan governor from 2011 through 2018. The latest charges followed a new investigation into the case. In 2019, prosecutors dropped previous charges saying a more thorough investigation would be carried out.

April 25, 2014, was listed as the date of the offense—the day Flint switched water systems.

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

It marks the first time a Michigan governor or former governor has been charged with crimes related to their time in 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.”

“Any charges would be meritless. Coming from an administration that claims to be above partisan politics, it is deeply disappointing to see pure political motivation driving charging decisions,” he said.

Snyder and others were scheduled to appear in court Thursday, followed by a news conference by Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said more details would be given at a news conference on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...