Twelve people died and more than 80 were sickened during the Flint water crisis, and now authorities are holding two Michigan officials responsible.
The Flint Water Prosecution Team is scheduled to announce its findings at a news conference Thursday morning after former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and former Flint Public Works director Howard Croft were each charged Wednesday.
They each face two counts of willful neglect of duty as part of an investigation into the crisis, according to court documents. The charges are misdemeanors, punishable with up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000, the state’s penal code shows.
Flint has been exposed to extremely high levels of lead since 2014 when city and state officials switched the city’s water supply from the Detroit Water System to the contaminated Flint River in an effort to cut costs.
The switch was supposed to be temporary while a new supply line to Lake Huron was completed. When the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the corrosive water, it ate into the city’s iron and lead pipes and leached into the drinking water.
The contaminated water led to two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia caused by bacteria.
More than a dozen lawsuits, including several class-action suits, were filed against the state, the city of Flint and some state and city employees involved in the decision to switch the source of the drinking water and those responsible for monitoring water quality.
Last year, the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, and a court-monitored compensation fund was established.