By David Eggert, Associated Press
FLINT, Mich. — Five people, including the head of Michigan’s health department, were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter in an investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water, all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires’ disease.
Nick Lyon is the highest-ranking member of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of how the city’s water system became poisoned after officials tapped the Flint River in 2014.
Lyon, 48, the director of the Health and Human Services Department, is accused of failing to alert the majority-black population about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014-15.
An involuntary manslaughter conviction carries up to 15 years in prison.
“The health crisis in Flint has created a trust crisis for Michigan government, exposing a serious lack of confidence in leaders who accept responsibility and solve problems,” said state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who said his probe is moving to the trial phase and signaled that Snyder, who has apologized for his administration’s failures that led to and prolonged the crisis, may not be charged.
“We only file criminal charges when evidence of probable cause of a crime has been established. And we’re not filing charges at this time,” he said.
Lyon also is charged with misconduct in office for allegedly obstructing university researchers who are studying if the surge in cases was linked to the Flint River.
The others charged with involuntary…
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