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Michigan plans to charge ex-Gov. Snyder in Flint water crisis

governor rick snyder
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

This is a developing story. Check for updates below.

The Associated Press has learned that former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they're being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal.

Two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution said the attorney general's office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Flint's water system was contaminated with lead in 2014, when the city switched from using water from the Detroit River to the Flint River. 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. The switch was also blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. 

Then-Gov. Snyder eventually acknowledged the problem, accepted the resignation of his environmental chief and pledged to aid the city. Years later, Snyder has been named as a defendent in multiple civil and class action lawsuits.

In August 2020, the state of Michigan reached a $600 million settlement to compensate residents whose health was damaged by the tainted water. 

Update: Tuesday, January 12 at 3:45 p.m.

Rick Snyder's attorneys have called the "rumored charges" against the former governor a "politically motivated smear campaign."

The office of Brian Lennon, Warner Norcross + Judd LLP put out a statement Tuesday afternoon saying, "It is outrageous to think any criminal charges would be filed against Gov. Snyder. Any charges would be meritless. Coming from an administration that claims to be above partisan politics, it is deeply disappointing to see pure political motivation driving charging decisions."

The lawyers added that they believe the Office of Special Council needs a "scapegoat" after "wasting five years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on a fruitless investigation," and that Snyder is a target in a political escapade.

Update: Tuesday, January 12 at 3:15 p.m.

Attorneys for Snyder's former senior advisor, Rich Baird, said they have been informed their client will be facing charges stemming from the crisis.

In a statement, attorney Randall L. Levine said, "At this time, we have not been made aware of what the charges are, or how they are related to his position with former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration."

Baird served as Snyder's point man in Flint throughout the crisis.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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