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Flint water crisis criminal prosecutions: Where things stand now

Oct 10, 2017

The criminal cases in the Flint water crisis are unfolding. State health director Nick Lyon had a hearing in court last week. The state’s chief medical officer Dr. Eden Wells had a hearing on Monday and she is now facing some new charges.

Michigan Radio reporter Steve Carmody has been covering the criminal prosecutions and was at that hearing. He spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about the ongoing proceedings. (You can hear the conversation above.)

The Flint water crisis criminal prosecutions: Where things stand now

To date, 15 current and former state and local officials have been charged for their role that led to the Flint water crisis. The cases center on a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County that killed a dozen people from 2014 to the end of 2015. 

Health department officials, including Lyon, were aware of a spike in Legionnaires' cases in January 2015.  However, the first public warning about the deadly form of pneumonia was not issued until a year later. 

  • Thirteen of those charged are facing possible jail time.
  • Two have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.
  • Preliminary exams are just beginning. A preliminary exam is a court hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence for a case to move to trial.
  • Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office. Lyon's preliminary exam continues next month. 
  • The preliminary exam for Michigan Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells was scheduled to begin on Monday, but was extended when prosecutors said they plan add new charges against her. Wells had already been charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. The new charges are involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office. Her preliminary exam will resume on Nov. 6. 
  • There are preliminary exams for other defendants scheduled in November, December and January. 
  • No trials are expected to begin until sometime in 2018.
  • It's not clear if some of the trials, if they happen, would include multiple defendants.