Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who ran the state at the time of the devastating Flint water scandal in 2014, has been indicted in the crisis that led to the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people.
He faces two charges of willful neglect of his homework, according to online court records, and faces 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 do not had given him no details.
Lennon’s NBC News requests for comment were not immediately returned. The state attorney general’s office made no comment.
Other members of his administration may also be charged.
Snyder and others are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, and a press conference with Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors is expected to follow.
The Snyder administration’s decision in 2014 to move Flint from the Detroit water system to Flint River led to disaster, as untreated river water led to pipe corrosion and lead contamination. .
Criminal charges were filed in 2017 against a number of state officials, including former state health department chief Nick Lyon, for the Legionella outbreak alongside the contaminated water. Lyon has been accused of learning about the outbreak in 2015 and failing to notify the public for another year.
Prosecutors dropped charges against eight people, including Lyon, in 2019.
Some experts have said that the city’s contaminated water has led to an outbreak of Legionella, a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in hot water.
Bryant Nolden, a Genesee County commissioner who runs a historic recreation center in Flint, celebrated the news that possible indictments would include the former governor.
“The responsibility fell to Governor Snyder,” he said. “He’s the one who set up the people who did this. We have to see how it all goes, but I’m very happy to hear that some people are going to be held accountable at the highest level.”
Nolden said he and his neighbors in Flint were disappointed when the first rounds of indictments ended before Snyder himself. “I was a little worried that it wouldn’t go up to him.”
Seeing Snyder held responsible, he said, won’t repair the damage to Flint – including the skyrocketing rate of children in need of special education services – but it will improve morale among residents.
“The people here are very resilient,” he said. “We have been successful and we are dealing with it, but I think it will help to a certain extent, letting them know that justice will be served because these people will be held accountable for the wrongs they have done here. community.”
Residents of Flint, a predominantly black town, have struggled for years to recover from the crisis as they relied on bottled water as their main source of drinking water for months and saw property values suffer.
The state agreed to a $ 600 million settlement in April for residents of Flint whose health has been affected by a class action lawsuit, creating a fund where residents can seek compensation.