The meager but groundbreaking charges against Snyder-the first governor in Michigan's 184-year history to be charged with crimes related to their time in office-were made public following a bombshell report by Jordan Chariton and Jenn Dize for The Intercept, which obtained documents suggesting that Snyder "knew about a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Flint as early as October 2014, when there was still a significant amount of time to save lives".
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis, an environmental disaster that contaminated the majority Black city's drinking water with lead almost seven years ago.
Rick Snyder has been criminally charged with willful neglect of duty in connection with the Flint water crisis, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Snyder was told he would be charged along with his health director and a number of other ex-officials.
Moments later, his old boss, former Gov. Rick Snyder, also pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty in Flint.
Snyder, a Republican, was Michigan's top executive when state-appointed officials chose to switch the city's drinking water source from Detroit's water system to the Flint River in 2014.
By June 2019, the entire Flint water investigation was turned upside down after more than three years and millions of dollars. The water supply the city moved to use, however, was contaminated with lead and other toxins.
As NPR's Bill Chappell reported at the time the settlement indicated that almost 80% of the funds were earmarked to resolved claims filed on behalf of children and minors. State environmental regulators advised Flint not to apply corrosion controls to the water, which became contaminated by lead from aging pipes without those corrosion controls. A judge said she hopes to decide by January 21 whether to grant preliminary approval.
Responding to a crush of lawsuits, Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $600 million settlement last August that grew to $641 million as the city, a local hospital and a consulting firm joined.
The state reported that 90 Genesse County residents were sickened and 12 died as a result of the Legionnaires' outbreak, but a PBS Frontline investigation found that the real number of cases and deaths were likely higher than the official totals, citing the heightened number of pneumonia cases reported in the county at the time. One family in 2016 told the BBC that the tap water sometimes came out blue or yellow, and that all five family members began to lose their hair and developed painful rashes.
The city has since switched back to using Detroit's water system. "And that's what caused lead levels to spike in many homes in Flint".
Snyder apologized for the catastrophe during his 2016 State of the State speech and said government at all levels had failed Flint. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. We are working hard for you and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis. "I'm sorry and I will fix it". "The Attorney General choosing to charge the man who made himself the unilateral dictator over my City, poison us, lie to us and watch us suffer with a small misdemeanor just proves to us in Flint that if you are a rich white man, it's not considered an ACTUAL crime to poison poor, black and brown communities for profit, it's only a minor fine and a slap on the wrist". Several of them accepted plea deals to avoid prison time.
The former Wayne County prosecutor appointed in 2016 to lead the state's investigation of the matter said then that he was looking to determine whether any officials who signed off on the change in the water system had acted criminally.