Prosecutors detail charges against former Michigan governor and 8 others in Flint water crisis investigation

Michigan officials on Thursday announced the outcome of the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis. Former Governor Rick Snyder is facing two counts of willful neglect of duty for “failing to protect the health and safety” of the city’s residents. 

Eight others, including members of Snyder’s administration, are also facing charges. If convicted, Snyder could serve up to one year in jail and face a $1,000 fine.

The crisis, which began in 2014, left the city of Flint’s drinking water contaminated with lead, which was blamed for a 2016 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed at least 12 people.

In a statement Thursday, Snyder’s lawyer, Brian Lennon, called the charges a waste of taxpayer money. “Today’s charges do nothing to bring justice to the people of Flint,” Lennon said. “Today’s actions merely perpetrate an outrageous political persecution.”

“The Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Fadwa Hammoud, Michigan’s solicitor general, said in a news conference Thursday. “At this very moment, the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at levels of government who trampled on their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.”

Investigators reviewed millions of documents and several hundreds of electronic devices in the probe. Hammoud said the investigation is one of the largest currently underway around the world.

“Nobody — no matter how powerful or well-connected — is above accountability when they commit a crime. And just as no one in this case was unfairly targeted, no one was given any special passes or privileges,” Hammoud said. “We may never know all the names of those who have their lives and livelihoods destroyed by this man-made crisis.”

Here’s a readout of the charges in the case:

  • Jarrod Agen, former director of communications and chief of staff of the governor’s office: one count of perjury
  • Gerald Ambrose, former Flint emergency manager: four counts of misconduct in office
  • Richard Baird, former transformation manager and senior advisor in Snyder’s executive office: one count of misconduct in office 
  • Howard Croft, former director of Flint’s public works department, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty while in office
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint emergency manager: three counts of misconduct in office
  • Nicolas Lyon, the state’s former health director: nine counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of willful neglect of duty
  • Nancy Peeler, Early Childhood Health Section Manager: two counts of misconduct in office and one count of willful neglect of duty
  • Richard Snyder, former Michigan governor: two counts of willful neglect of duty
  • Eden Wells, former state medical executive: nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of misconduct in office, one count of willful neglect of duty

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