DETROIT (WXYZ) — Former Gov. Rick Snyder and several other state officials were charged in connection with the Flint Water Crisis. This is a major development and a first for the former governor who was in charge during the crisis.
The charges are coming from Attorney General Dana Nessel, but sources tell 7 Action News these are indictments handed down by a grand jury.
The charges for some include involuntary manslaughter as several people died of legionnaires disease during the water crisis. Snyder was charged with willful neglect of duty.
7 Action News has heard for months that these charges could be coming. We asked former Gov. Snyder about this back in September on our 7 UpFront segment.
Snyder took full responsibility for the water crisis. He 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.
According to sources, these are the people who are being charged this week:
Rick Snyder, we are told by sources will be charged with a major crime, involuntary manslaughter. The theory is that his actions led to death. That’s 15 years in prison.
The others are close aides to him. They include Rich Baird, Jarrod Agen, who was Snyder’s chief of staff then left to become Vice President Mike Pence’s communications director.
Nick Lyon, former state health director, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter and bound over for trial.
Eden wells, the chief state medical doctor was previously charged.
Lastly, two Flint emergency managers, Darnell Early and Gerald Ambrose, who were also previously charged.
Former Gov. Snyder was on UpFront here on channel 7 on Sept. 15 and we asked him about possible charges and if he was concerned.
Several have since released statements regarding the litigation.
Brian Lennon, attorney for former Gov. Snyder said, “We have been told by several reporters that the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of Special Counsel plans to charge former Gov. Rick Snyder with crimes related to the Flint water investigation. That office has refused to share information about these charges with us, which is an indication that a public relations smear campaign is a higher priority than any official legal action.
It is outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Gov. Snyder. 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.
The Office of Special Counsel clearly needs a scapegoat after wasting five years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a fruitless investigation. Rather than following the evidence to find the truth, the Office of Special Counsel appears to be targeting former Gov. Snyder in a political escapade.”
Ted Leopold and Michael Pitt, interim court-appointed co-lead class counsel for the Flint litigation released the below joint statement:
“The residents of Flint were victims of decisions by the State of Michigan that resulted in tragic and devastating consequences. While we can never undo the injustice that occurred to the victims of Flint and their community, those responsible—including Governor Snyder and those he appointed to oversee the needs of the Flint residents—should be held accountable for the devastation they caused. On behalf of our clients, we give our assurances that we will continue to fight to make sure that a full measure of justice is obtained.”
Attorney for Flint DPW Dir. Howard Croft, released a statement on his behalf saying, "We are obviously disappointed by the decision to charge former Flint Department of Public Works Director Howard Croft a second time," said Croft's attorney Jamie White "After more than two years of litigation, we failed to see a credible piece of evidence as it pertained to Mr Croft. Most troubling is the process, or lack of due process, the prosecutors chose to pursue in this second prosecution. We are informed and believe a one-man grand jury was used to authorize these charges. If that was the case, a one-man grand jury is a rarely used dinosaur that has a built-in prejudice as it pertains to an individual’s ability to receive a fair trial. Implementing this secretive and prejudicial process is very concerning at this point in time."
We’ll have more on this in the coming days.