News Feature | January 19, 2021

Ex-Governor Of Michigan Charged In Investigation Of Flint Water Crisis

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


In the latest from an ongoing effort for justice following the pervasive lead drinking water contamination saga that impacted Flint, MI, the state’s former governor has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty.

Former Governor Rick Snyder oversaw a state government that failed to require Flint to treat its drinking water for corrosion as would be mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and failed to enforce federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. These oversights were central to conditions that led thousands of residents to regularly consume drinking water containing dangerous levels of lead, eventually leading to a state of emergency declared for Flint. Michigan is preparing to pay a $640 million settlement to victims of the contamination.

“The date of the misdemeanor offense in charging documents filed against Snyder and posted online was listed as April 25, 2014, the day the city switched water systems,” Reuters reported. “Each count carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.”

Several other former state officials faced criminal charges as well, including Jarrod Agen, the former chief of staff for Snyder’s office; Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Early, former emergency managers for Flint; Richard Baird, the former transformation manager and senior advisor to Snyder’s office; Howard Croft, the former director of Flint’s department of public works; Nicolas Lyon, the former director of Michigan’s department of health and human services; Nancy Peeler, the current early childhood health section manager for Michigan’s department of health and human services; and Eden Wells, the former chief medical executive for Michigan’s department of health and human services.

“Together the group face 42 counts related to the drinking water catastrophe roughly seven years ago,” NPR reported. “The crimes range from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter.”

Snyder has reportedly entered a not guilty plea following the charges. This marks the first time in Michigan’s history that a current or former governor faces criminal charges for misconduct while in office.

“It’s outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Governor Snyder,” according to a statement from the ex-governor shared by Reuters. “Any charges would be meritless.”

To read more about how communities deal with issues like lead contamination, visit Water Online’s Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.