LANSING, Michigan (AP) – Two years after stepping down, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder faces charges of willful neglect of his duty in Flint’s water crisis as prosecutors revisit how the city’s water system was contaminated with lead in one of the world’s worst man-made problems. environmental disasters in the history of the United States.
Two misdemeanors appeared in an online court file Wednesday night after Attorney General Dana Nessel and his prosecutors announced a press conference Thursday to discuss their findings. Former officials who worked in Snyder’s administration are also expected to be charged and appear in court on Thursday.
“We believe there is no evidence to support criminal charges against Governor Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon said, adding that prosecutors still had not provided him with details.
Charges against Snyder carry up to one year in prison and a $ 1,000 fine if convicted. No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history has been charged with crimes related to his time in that office, according to the state archivist.
Snyder, a Republican, was governor from 2011 to 2018. The former IT executive introduced himself as a problem-solving “nerd” who avoided partisan politics and favored online dashboards to show off government performance. Flint turned out to be the worst chapter of his two terms due to a series of catastrophic decisions that will affect residents for years to come.
The date of Snyder’s alleged crimes in Flint is listed as April 25, 2014, when an emergency official appointed by Snyder who ruled the troubled majority black city made an economic decision to use the Flint River for water while that a Lake Huron pipeline was under construction.
Corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing in homes.
Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no meaningful action until a doctor reported high levels of lead in children about 18 months later.
“I’m sorry and I’ll fix it,” Snyder vowed during his 2016 State of the State address.
Authorities have also counted at least 90 cases of Legionellosis in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts have found that there is not enough chlorine in Flint’s water treatment system to control Legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting systems. and cooling.
Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis has been presented as an example of environmental injustice and racism.
The criminal investigation lasted five years under two teams of prosecutors. Todd Flood, who was convicted of a seven-person misdemeanor, was ousted in 2019 after Nessel, a Democrat, was elected. Fadwa Hammoud subsequently dropped the charges in eight pending cases and said the investigation would restart. She said the first team failed to collect all the available evidence.
Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital and an engineering company have agreed to a $ 641 million settlement with residents over the water crisis, including $ 600 million from Michigan. A judge said she hoped to decide by Jan.21 whether or not to grant preliminary approval. Other lawsuits, including one against the US Environmental Protection Agency, are ongoing.
White reported from Detroit.
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