Michigan’s health department director and four other individuals involved with Flint’s lead-contaminated water were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter, the most serious charges to date in the criminal investigation.
Nick Lyon was accused of misconduct in office and involuntary manslaughter, becoming the highest-ranking member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to be targeted in the criminal probe. The manslaughter charges carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $7,500 fine, while the misconduct charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a $10,000 fine.
Lyon, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith and Water Supervisor Stephen Busch and former Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft are accused of failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area.
There were 12 deaths and 79 other people sickened by Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-15, which some experts have linked to the contaminated water after the city witched to Flint River water in April 2014.