Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who ran the state at the time the devastating Flint water scandal of 2014, is accused of a crisis that led to the outbreak of a legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people.
Snyder he pleaded not guilty Thursday morning on two counts of willful misconduct, before the judge ordered the bond at $ 10,000.
The former governor was ordered not to leave the state before his next meeting on Tuesday. He faces up to a year in prison and a $ 1,000 fine.
“We believe there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against Governor Snyder,” defense attorney Brian Lennon told the on Wednesday night, adding that state prosecutors did not provide him with any details.
Lennon’s requests for comment from NBC News were not immediately returned. The state attorney’s office had no comment.
Others from his administration could also be indicted. Attorney General Dana Nessel and prosecutors are expected to discuss the case during a press conference Thursday morning.
The Snyder administration’s decision in 2014 to transfer Flint from the Detroit water system to the Flint River led to disaster, as untreated river water resulted in pipe corrosion and lead contamination.
Criminal charges were filed against a number of government officials, including former head of the state health department, Nick Lyon, for the outbreak of Legionnaires ’disease at the same time as the contaminated water crisis. Lyon is accused of failing to inform the public for a year after learning of the 2015 outbreak.
Prosecutors dropped charges against Lyon and seven others in 2019
Experts said the city’s contaminated water led to the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water.
Bryant Nolden, a member of the Genesee County Board of Trustees that runs the historic recreation center in Flint, celebrated the news that Snyder will be among the accused.
“The dollars stopped at Governor Snyder,” he said. “He was the one who set up the people who actually did it. We have to see how it all plays out, but I’m very happy to hear that some people will respond at the highest level.”
Nolden said he and his neighbors in Flint were disappointed when earlier rounds of indictments stopped Snyder. “I was a little worried he wouldn’t go all the way to the ladder.”
Bringing Snyder to justice, he said, will not repair the damage done to Flint – including a jump in the rate of children in need of special education services – but it will improve morale among residents.
“The residents here are very resilient,” he said. “We’ve gotten over it and we’re dealing with it, but I think this will help in a small way by letting them know that justice will be served because these people will be held accountable for the injustices they have done here in this community.”
Residents of Flint, a predominantly Montenegrin town, have struggled for years to recover from the crisis as they have relied on bottled water for months as their primary source of clean water and on the property value suffered.
The state agreed to a A $ 600 million settlement in August in a collective lawsuit with the residents of Flint whose health was endangered, establishing a fund from which residents can file a claim for damages.