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Judge dismisses charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (file photo)

A judge has dismissed criminal charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder.

The decision is the latest setback for prosecutors seeking to hold someone accountable for the Flint water crisis.

Judge F. Kay Behm wrote in her decision that "The charges...were not properly brought and must be dismissed.”

The charges, two misdemeanor counts of Willful Neglect of Duty, were lodged against the former governor nearly two years ago. Prosecutors used a one-person grand jury to indict Snyder and eight others in connection with the Flint water crisis.

But the Michigan Supreme Court ruled over the summer that the process was flawed. As a result, a different judge dismissed felony charges against seven other Flint water defendants earlier this year.

There is now only one person criminally charged in connection with the Flint water crisis. Former Flint Public Works director Howard Croft is facing the same misdemeanor charges that the judge this week dismissed against former Gov. Snyder.

"After years of desperate attempts at political persecution veiled in amateurish and unethical prosecutorial efforts, we're pleased to see that Judge Behm followed the unanimous Michigan Supreme Court and her former Circuit Court colleague by dismissing this fatally flawed case against Governor Rick Snyder,” said Brian Lennon, Snyder’s attorney.

Prosecutors say they were not surprised by Judge Behm’s ruling and plan to appeal.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office released a statement attributed to the Flint Prosecution Team. It reads in part:

“As we have reiterated time and again, rulings up to this point have been on process alone --- not on the merits of the case. We are confident that the evidence clearly supports the criminal charges against Rick Snyder, and we will not stop until we have exhausted all possible legal options to secure justice for the people of Flint.”

But Snyder attorney Brian Lennon said the state has already “wasted millions of taxpayer dollars pursuing meritless misdemeanor charges and this case should now be considered closed.”

To date, while some former government officials have taken plea deals in exchange for no contest pleas, no one has served any prison time in connection with the Flint Water Crisis.

Between the spring of 2014 and the fall of 2015, the city of Flint received its drinking water from the Flint River. It was a decision made by an emergency manager appointed by former Gov. Rick Snyder to save the city money.

However, water taken from the river was not properly treated with anti-corrosive chemicals. The result was the river water damaged city pipes, which released lead and other contaminants into the city’s drinking water.

Since October 2015, the city of Flint has been largely getting its drinking water from Detroit’s water system, though a small amount comes via the KWA pipeline.

Tens of thousands of Flint residents are waiting to see if they will receive a share of a $626 million settlement of legal claims against the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, McLaren Hospital Flint and Rowe Professional Services. A special master overseeing the process is reviewing applications. The first checks may be cut sometime early next year.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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