Flint water crisis prosecution team to discuss findings from investigation

News conference to be held Thursday morning

The Flint Water Plant tower is shown in Flint, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Some Flint residents impacted by months of lead-tainted water are looking past expected charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and others in his administration to healing physical and emotional damages left by the crisis. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Findings from an investigation into the Flint water crisis are expected to be revealed along with charging decisions during a news conference Thursday morning.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will be joined by Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy, of the Flint water crisis prosecution team.

The news conference will announce the outcome of the state’s criminal investigation, they said in a statement Wednesday.

  • This live event has ended.

On Wednesday it was announced former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is facing charges of willful neglect 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.”

Snyder was arraigned on those charges Thursday morning. He pleaded not guilty to both charges. He received a $10,000 personal bond for both counts. He is not allowed to leave the state of Michigan.

His next court hearing is Jan. 19.

Rick Snyder, former Michigan governor, at his arraignment Jan. 14, 2021. (WDIV)

Evidence against Snyder

Local 4′s Hank Winchester 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.

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.”

Read more: A look at the evidence collected against Gov. Snyder in the Flint water crisis

Besides Snyder, a Republican who served until 2019, charges are expected against other people, including former officials who served as state health director, Michigan’s chief medical executive, Snyder’s communications chief and a senior adviser.

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.


About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.