Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and former Flint Public Works director Howard Croft were charged Wednesday in connection with the Flint water scandal that killed 12 people and sickened more than 90.
Both former officials face two counts of willful neglect of duty, misdemeanors punishable with up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $1,000.
The Flint Water Prosecution Team is set to announce findings from its investigation into the scandal that plagued the city and led to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014 and 2015 at a news conference Thursday morning.
Snyder was governor in 2014 when state-appointed managers in Flint changed the city’s water source to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being constructed to Lake Huron. The water was not treated to reduce corrosion, causing lead to leach from old pipes into the distribution system used by almost 100,000 residents.
Meanwhile, bacteria in the water was found to be the cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires’, with at least 90 cases detected in Genesee County, including twelve deaths.
Snyder, who served as governor from 2010 to 2018, and former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon announced the outbreak in January 2016, months after Lyon says he knew cases were being reported.
The state reached a $600 million settlement with victims last year and a court-monitored compensation fund was established.
A new investigation was opened into the scandal in 2019 when new attorney general Dana Nessel dismissed an existing case against Lyon, who was facing involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly failing to inform the public about the outbreak in a timely manner. Nessel dismissed that case and charges against seven others and began a new probe.
An attorney for Snyder, Brian Lennon, said Wednesday that the former Republican governor was being used as a scapegoat by a politically driven special counsel. He called reports that Snyder would be charged “meritless” and part of a “political escapade.”
Croft’s attorney Jamie White expressed disappointment at the decision to charge Croft a second time.
“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,” she said in a statement earlier this week.