FILE - MI Gov. Rick Snyder

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (Rick Snyder | Flickr via Creative Commons)

(The Center Square) – Nine members of the Rick Snyder administration, including the former Republican governor and a current Michigan Department of Health and Human Services manager, were indicted on 42 total counts for their respective roles in the Flint water crisis.

The indictments were announced Thursday morning by Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy, both appointed by Attorney General Dana Nessel. The charges came after a year-long investigation by lone grand juror Judge David Newblatt.

The nine defendants were arraigned before Judge Elizabeth A. Kelly for the Seventh Circuit Court and Chief Judge Christopher Odette for the 67th District Court. 

The defendants and charges filed against them include:

  • 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; and 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, MDHHS: 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 

Flint garnered national attention after a state of emergency was declared in Genesee County in 2016. The emergency was prompted when the City of Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. Water from the river was untreated for corrosives, which caused lead to leach from the existing water pipes.

Snyder declared the state of emergency, and then-Attorney General Bill Schuette appointed a private law firm as Office of Special Counsel. After elected in 2018, Nessel dismantled the OSC, and appointed Hammoud and Worthy to lead a new investigation.

“Today, our country is reminded that, no matter your position, power, or wealth, when you abuse the powers of your office and harm the very people you were sworn to serve, you will be held accountable,” Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said in a statement.

“These charges tell a story of broad systemic failure,” he continued. “I raised my voice against this for years, but these people lied to me, they lied to the people of Flint, they lied to everyone. They caused unforgivable harm to Flint’s children and betrayed the trust of a city.”

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.