Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who ruled the state during the devastating Flint water scandal of 2014, has been charged with an epidemic of legionnaires in the city in which 12 people lost their lives.
According to online court records, he is charged with intentional disregard for two duties and could face up to a year in prison and a $ 1,000 fine.
We believe there is no evidence to support criminal charges against Governor Snyder, ”defense attorney Brian Lennon told the Associated Press Wednesday night, adding that state prosecutors had not given him details.
NBC News’s comments were not immediately returned from Lennon.
Others may be charged in its administration.
Snyder and others are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, and a press conference between Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors is expected to follow.
The Snyder administration’s 2014 decision to switch Flint from the Detroit water system to the Flint River led to disaster, as untreated running water led to pipe milling and lead pollution.
In 2017, criminal proceedings were instituted against a number of state officials, including former head of the state’s health department, Nick Lyon, over an outbreak of legionnaires at the same time as the polluted water crisis. Lyon was accused of learning of the 2015 epidemic and failing to inform the public for a year.
In 2019, prosecutors filed charges against eight people, including Lyon.
Some experts say the city’s polluted water has led to an outbreak of Legionnaires ’disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water.
Gryee County Commissioner Bryant Nolden, who runs a historic recreation center in Flint, celebrated the news that the possible charges will include the former governor.
“The buck stopped at Governor Snyder,” he said. “He was the one who put the people in his place who really did it. We need to see how it all happens, but I’m very happy to hear that some people will be held accountable at the highest level.”
Nolden said he and Flint’s neighbors were disappointed when previous indictment proceedings stopped at Snyder. “I was a little worried it wouldn’t go all the way up the ladder.”
He said that holding Snyder accountable would not remedy the damage done to Flint – including the climate rate of children in need of special education services – but would improve residents ’morale.
“The people here are very resilient,” he said. “We’ve done it and we’re dealing with it, but I think it helps in some way, letting them know they’re serving the truth because these people are being held accountable for the mistakes that have been made here by community.”
Residents of the mostly black-populated city of Flint have been struggling to recover from the crisis for years, relying on bottled water for months as it was the primary source of clean water and seeing wealth suffer.
The state reached a $ 600 million deal in April with the flints, whose health was triggered by a class action lawsuit, creating a fund where residents can file damages.