FLINT, Mich. – Michigan plans to charge former Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to be among a group of people facing charges in connection with the Flint water crisis.
Charges are expected to be announced Thursday morning in a press conference held by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy.
On Wednesday it was announced Snyder is facing charges of willful neglect of duty in connection with the Flint water crisis. The Michigan Legislature defines willful neglect of duty as follows:
“When any duty is or shall be enjoined by law upon any public officer, or upon any person holding any public trust or employment, every willful neglect to perform such duty, where no special provision shall have been made for the punishment of such delinquency, constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.”
We did some digging into what may be ahead for Snyder. The evidence reportedly includes potential email evidence of Snyder allegedly being warned about the danger a year before the city moved from using water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to water from the Flint River, and a Legionnaire’s disease cover-up.
Synder’s computers, phones and iPad were reportedly key to the investigation. Prosecutors believe email communication could establish a timeline.
Brian Lennon, Snyder’s attorney, said criminal prosecution would be “outrageous.”
“It is outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Gov. Snyder,” Lennon said. “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.”
Thursday’s press conference revealing the outcome of the state’s criminal investigation can be watched live on ClickOnDetroit.
- READ MORE: Flint Water Crisis
Flint water crisis
Flint was in financial trouble in 2014 when a Snyder-appointed manager who was running the 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, wasn’t treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.
Despite 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 wasn’t 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.
In August 2020, a settlement of a lawsuit filed was reached on behalf of residents of Flint who were harmed by lead-tainted water. As of November it totaled about $641 million.