LANSING, Mich. (AP MODIFIED) — Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been arraigned on charges with two counts of willful neglect of duty in the Flint water crisis.
Snyder was given a $10,000 personal bond for each count with conditions he personally appears for all standard court hearings. He has pleaded not guilty on the charges.
His only travel restriction is to not leave the State of Michigan without permission from the court. His next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Snyder arrived in Genesee County Court on Thursday morning to face arraignment on the charges.
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Residents' tap water became tainted by lead. A legionella outbreak has been connected by experts to ruinous decisions that turned a river into the city's water source in 2014-15.
Snyder and his team ordered Flint to switch off Detroit water to the Flint River to save money. Flint was under a state takeover and emergency managers were running the city.
The Flint River was more corrosive and caused lead poisoning and later an outbreak of legionnaires disease that was deadly for several people.
The indictment filed by the attorney general's office is groundbreaking.
According to the state archivist, no governor or former governor in Michigan's 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office.
7 Action News has heard for months that these charges could be coming. We asked Snyder if he was worried about any criminal charges possibly coming his way back in September on a 7 UpFront segment.
Snyder responded: “No, Flint was a terrible thing to have happen. We responded; we did a lot of good things in Flint and, again, we need to move forward and learn from that.”
Documents that are now on the Genesee County Court website show former Gov. Rick Snyder is charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty, both misdemeanors that carry penalties of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The criminal case was presented to a one-man grand jury, Genesee County Circuit Judge David Newblatt. The Judge's name is on the charging document.
The grand jury is a secret process. It is not clear if a much more serious felony charge of involuntary manslaughter was presented to the grand jury and what may have happened.
Claudia Perkins-Milton, a water warrior with the Flint Democracy Defense League, spoke out after hearing of the charges.
“Actually that’s what we call a slap in the face. All this time and that’s the best they could come up with? I’m appalled,” said Perkins-Milton. “That is not justice at all.”
Snyder's defense attorneys have called the charges "meritless" and "politically motivated."