Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who was running the state at the time 2014 Flint Water Devastation scandal, In the crisis that led to the Legionnaires disease outbreak that killed 12 people.
He faces two charges of willful neglect of duty, according to online court records, and faces up to a year in prison and a $ 1,000 fine.
Defense lawyer Brian Lennon told The Associated Press on Wednesday night: “We believe that there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Governor Snyder,” adding that prosecutors did not provide him with any details.
Requests for comment from Lennon were not immediately responded to by NBC News. There was no comment from the state attorney general’s office.
He can also press charges against others in his department.
Snyder and others are due to appear in court on Thursday, and a press conference for Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors is expected.
The decision by the Snyder administration in 2014 to divert the Flint from the Detroit water system to the Flint River led to disaster, as untreated river water corroded and contaminated the pipes with lead.
criminal Charges were brought in 2017 against a number of state officials, Including former state health chief Nick Lyon, about the Legionnaires disease outbreak at the same time as the contaminated water crisis. Leon has been accused of learning about the outbreak in 2015 and failing to inform the public for another year.
The prosecution Charges were dropped against eight people, including Leon, In 2019.
Some experts said that the city’s water pollution led to an outbreak of Legionnaires, a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that breed in warm water.
Bryant Nolden, the Genesee County Commissioner who runs a historic amusement center in Flint, celebrated the news that potential indictments would include the former governor.
“The responsibility ceased with Governor Snyder,” he said. “It was the person who put people where they really did. We have to see how all of this is done, but I’m very happy to hear that some people will be held accountable at the highest level.”
Nolden said he and his neighbors in Flint were disappointed when previous rounds of indictments had not reached Snyder himself. “I was a little worried that the matter would not reach the top of the stairs to him.”
Seeing Snyder being held accountable, he said, would not repair the damage done in Flint – including the high rates of children requiring special education services – but would improve morale among the population.
“The people here have a lot of flexibility,” he said. “We have succeeded in it and we are dealing with it but I think it will help in a simple way, letting them know that justice will be done because these people will be held accountable for the mistakes they made here in this community.”
Residents of the predominantly black city of Flint have struggled for years to recover from the crisis, relying for months on bottled water as their main source of clean water and seeing property values plummet.
The state agreed to a $ 600 million settlement in April for residents of Flint whose health was damaged in a class-action lawsuit, and created a fund in which residents could apply for compensation.