Michigan officials vow to fight charges over Flint water crisis

The five charged Wednesday are all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires’ disease

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on Wednesday, June 14, that he has charged Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith, and Water Supervisor Stephen Busch, with involuntary manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act in the Flint Water Crisis.

Another Flint resident, Keri Webber, said her daughter, Stephanie, got Legionnaires' in August of 2015 at the age of 20 and survived it.

Schuette said his team had not spoken with Snyder as part of the investigation.

The crisis in Flint erupted in 2015 when tests found high amounts of lead in blood samples taken from children in the predominantly black city of about 100,000.

RICK SNYDER: Nick Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be fully committed to Flint's recovery.

Troy Kidd, whose mom Debra died in August 2015, said the news of the charges was a "sorrow happiness".

January 5, 2016: Snyder declares a state of emergency in Flint, the same day federal officials confirm that they are investigating.

Last summer, Schuette began his investigation in earnest by successfully obtaining a restraining order to keep the Snyder administration from working with personnel at the Genesee County Health Department and a Flint hospital to destroy records related to lead poisoning and Legionella deaths.

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Each of the manslaughter charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years behind bars and a $7,500 fine, while the misconduct charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

August 14: A federal emergency declaration over Flint's lead-tainted water crisis ends, but state officials say work continues to fix the drinking water system and provide services to city residents. We have a lot of people gone.

Jerold Lax, attorney of Dr. Eden Wells, said his client "vehemently denies the charges", which include obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. "We all are waiting to see what else the investigation uncovers".

He's also charged with a count of misconduct in office for "intentionally withholding information about the outbreak from Governor Rick Snyder contrary to" his duties, as well as "directing a health official to discontinue an analysis that would aid in determining the source of the Legionnaires' disease outbreak and save lives", court papers say.

Wells apparently tried to stop Wayne State University researchers from looking into the Legionnaires' problem.

Wednesday's charges stem from more than 80 cases of Legionnaires' disease, including the fatalities, that were believed to be linked to the water in Flint after the city switched its source to the Flint River from Lake Huron in April 2014.

Five officials in MI, including the head of the state's health department, were charged on Wednesday. But the attorneys both told the newspaper that they would contest the charges.

Lyon was personally briefed in January 2015 but "took no action to alert the public of a deadly" outbreak until almost a year later, special agent Jeff Seipenko told a judge as the charges were filed. When he appeared in court for his arraignment, he was joined by two two attorneys. "There's several parties that have motivations outside of the raw basic interest of finding justice for the people of Flint". Shekter Smith was sacked previous year and Busch is on paid leave. "But no additional charges at this time have been filed".

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