Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday with willful neglect of duty in connection to the lead-contaminated water disasters throughout the area, which resulted in a regional outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the Associated Press reported. Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria.
The charges, found in an online court record, are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, the report added.
The charges are being given for the first time in the state’s nearly 200 year history, as no governor or former governor in Michigan was charged with crimes connected to their time in that elected office, according to the article.
The former Republican governor held his position from 2011 through 2018, and charges are expected against other people, including former officials who served under him.
The alleged offense date per the article is April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager was running the primarily Black city made a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water when a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.
According to the report, the corrosive water was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in this manmade environmental disaster.
Residents begged local and state officials to fix the disgusting, discolored water — and, according to the report, the Snyder administration took no major strides until a doctor reported high lead levels in children roughly 18 months later.
“I’m sorry and I will fix it,” Snyder said in response during his 2016 State of the State speech, according to the report.
Authorities counted at a minimum of 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths, according to the report.
According to the report, the criminal investigation lasted five years under two teams of prosecutors.