Flint, Mitch. Contaminated water and he was blamed for the deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the Associated Press has learned.
Two people familiar with the planned proceedings told the AP on Tuesday that the attorney general’s office had informed defense attorneys of the indictment in Flint and asked them to wait for a court appearance soon. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they do not have the right to speak in public.
AP Schneider, former director of the health department Nick Leon, and others who were in his administration could not determine the nature of the allegations against him, including Rich Baird, a friend who was the governor’s key troublemaker.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, Courtney Coving Wington Watkins, said only that investigators were “working diligently” and that “we will be in a position to do so or share more immediately.”
Republicans, who have been out of office for two years, were governors when state-appointed administrators in Flint diverted city water to the Flint River in 2014 as a cost-saving measure, when the pipeline was built on Lake Huron. The water, however, was not treated to reduce corrosion – due to the disastrous decision confirmed by state regulators, leaks could occur from old pipes and the distribution system used by about 100,000 residents is wasted.
Schneider’s attorney, Brian Lennon, said in a rash-filled statement Tuesday that criminal proceedings would be “criminal.” He said state prosecutors “have refused to share information about the allegations with us.”
“Instead of pursuing the evidence to find out the truth, the Fish Special Counsel seems to be targeting former Governor Snyder in a political escape.”
Schneider apologized for the disaster during his 2016 State of the Nation speech and said the government failed Flint at all levels.
Leanne Walters, the mother of four, who is credited with uncovering lead contamination, said she wanted details about the allegations.
“The very fact that people are held accountable is a wonderful feat,” Walter said. “But when people’s lives are lost and children are seriously injured, that doesn’t seem to be enough.”
Disaster Making Flint a nationwide symbol of government mismanagement, residents and their parents fear that their children have been permanently harmed for bottled water. Lead damages the brain and nervous system and can cause learning and behavioral problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.
At the same time, bacteria in the water were blamed for the outbreak of Legionnaires. Legionella bacteria can emerge through the misting and cooling system, accelerating the severe form of pneumonia, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Authorities counted at least 90 cases in Janice County, including 12 deaths.
The outbreak was announced by Schneider and Leon in January 2016, although Leon admitted he knew the case had been filed several months earlier.
In 2018, Leon was ordered to stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter after he was accused by a special prosecutor of failing to provide timely information to the public. His lawyers argued that there was not enough concrete information to share earlier.
By June 2019, the entire Flint water side had collapsed after the investigation More than three years and millions of dollars. Prosecutors working under the new attorney general, Dana Nessel, dismissed the case against Leon, as well as the charges against seven others, and said the investigation would resume.
The decision did not affect the seven people who had already competed in the misdemeanor. They cooperated with the investigators and eventually their records were cleared.
Leon’s attorney said that when he asked the plaintiffs for a copy of the new charges, they were denied. Chip Chamberlain said the new case would be “a ratio of justice.”
Witnesses at the court hearing raised questions when Schneider was informed of the Legionnaires’ outbreak. Her urban affairs adviser, Harvey Hollins, told a judge that the governor was notified on Christmas Eve 2015. But Snyder told reporters three weeks later, in January 2016, that he knew about it.
Defense attorney Randy Levine said he was informed Monday that Beredd, of Flint descent, would face charges. Another lawyer, Jamie White, said Flint’s former public works chief, Howard Croft, was being charged.
“He was not assigned to go to Flint by Gov. Schneider when the Flint water crisis hit, but he raised his hand and volunteered,” Levine said of Baird.
A resident of Edina Sabuko, 61, said he still uses water filters, although the lead service line at his 40-plus-year home has changed, with more than 9,700 people in Flint.
Sabukko said of Schneider, “He blamed me, and the following things of the beans, in my opinion and like everyone else’s.”
Separately, the state, Flint, a hospital and an engineering company, agreed to settle 1,641 million with residents over the water crisis, with 600 million coming from Michigan. The judge is considering whether to grant preliminary approval.
Report from White Detroit. Egert reported from Lensing. John Fletcher contributed to this story in Verse Versus City.
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