Wednesday, December 8, 2021

9 charged in renewed effort to prosecute parties involved in Flint water crisis

January 14, 2021
<p>Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder addresses the audience on Jan. 19, 2016 during the State of the State Address at the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.</p>

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder addresses the audience on Jan. 19, 2016 during the State of the State Address at the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

Photo by Sunny Dhanjal | The State News

Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy provided a formal announcement today that nine parties will be presented with charges in the Flint water crisis. 

On Wednesday, the Associated Press (AP) broke that former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and former Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Nicolas Lyon would face charges that remained disclosed to the public. Additionally, an attorney for Richard Baird, former Transformation and Senior Adviser under the Snyder administration, announced that he too would be presented with charges against him. 

Since then, records from the Genesee County District Court have shown that Snyder will face two counts of willful neglect, punishable each to a one-year prison sentence or a $1,000 fine. Along with one count of willful neglect, Lyon faces nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, punishable to each a 15-year prison sentence and/or a $7,500 fine.

According to a Thursday press release from the attorney general’s office, the following charges will be brought against these nine parties: 

  • Jarrod Agen — Former Director of Communications and Former Chief of Staff, Executive Office of Gov. Rick Snyder

    • One count of perjury — a 15-year felony  

  • Gerald Ambrose — Former City of Flint Emergency Manager

    • Four counts of misconduct in office — each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

  • Richard Baird — Former Transformation Manager and Senior Adviser, Executive Office of Gov. Snyder

    • One count of perjury — a 15-year felony

    • One count of official misconduct in office — a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

    • One count of obstruction of justice — a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

    • One count of extortion — a 20-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

  • Howard Croft — Former Director of the City of Flint Department of Public Works

    • Two counts of willful neglect of duty — each a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine 

  • Darnell Earley — Former City of Flint Emergency Manager  

    • Three counts of misconduct in office — each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine 

  • Nicolas Lyon — Former Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services  

    • Nine counts of involuntary manslaughter — each a 15-year felony and/or $7,500 fine 

    • One count of willful neglect of duty — a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine 

  • Nancy Peeler — Current Early Childhood Health Section Manager, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 

    • Two counts of misconduct in office — each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

    • One count of willful neglect of duty — a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine

  • Richard Snyder — Former Governor of Michigan

    • Two counts of willful neglect of duty — each a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine

  • Eden Wells — Former Chief Medical Executive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 

    • Nine counts of involuntary manslaughter — each a 15-year felony and/or $7,500 fine

    • Two counts of misconduct in office — each a five-year felony and/or $10,000 fine

    • One count of willful neglect of duty — a one-year misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine 

In a Thursday press conference, Attorney General Dana Nessel opened by saying she was the people’s attorney, put in office to fight for Michiganders. She said because she chose to handle civil litigation in the case, she would not be able to work in the criminal investigation because of a conflict of interest. As a result, she appointed prosecutors Fadwa Hammoud and Kym Worthy to take over the criminal investigation. 

“Solicitor General Hammoud and Prosecutor Worthy’s track records demonstrate their commitment to public service as experienced prosecutors, which is why I appointed them to lead the criminal investigation in the Flint water crisis,” Nessel said. “I trust today’s announcement reflects their professional responsibilities and ethical obligations as the prosecuting authorities in this matter, and that their decisions are based solely on the facts, the law and the evidence.”

Hammoud said in a press release Thursday, "When an entire city is victimized by the negligence and indifference of those in power, it deserves an uncompromising investigation that holds to account anyone who is criminally culpable. That is what all residents in this state are entitled to, regardless of their ZIP code. And that is what this prosecution team did. Our approach was simple—where we believed the evidence would prove a criminal charge, we sought and obtained indictments for those crimes."

Critics of the new attempt at prosecution say that the motive behind renewing the effort is all political. As reported by MLive, Snyder’s attorney Brian Lennon said in a press release that this is an attempt at a “smear campaign.” Baird's attorney Randall Levine said in a Thursday statement that the counts of perjury, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and extortion against Baird are "baseless and appear to be politically motivated."

"Mr. Baird is innocent of any wrongdoing and is being unfairly prosecuted by the State’s democratic attorney general," Levine said in the statement.

Worthy said Thursday that politics has nothing to do with this investigation.

“This case has nothing to do with partisanship. It has to do with human decency, resurrecting the complete abandonment of the people of Flint, and finally, finally, holding people accountable for the unspeakable alleged atrocities that harmed this city for years,” Worthy said in Thursday's release. “Pure and simple this case is about justice, truth, accountability, poisoned children, lost lives, shattered families that are still not whole, and simply giving a damn about all of humanity.”

Snyder pleaded not guilty Thursday to the charges presented against him.

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