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In this June 5, 2017 photo, Nick Lyon, Michigan Health and Human Services Director, speaks in support of the state’s Medicaid expansion program in Lansing, Mich. Lyon was charged Wednesday, June 14, 2017, with involuntary manslaughter in a criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water. (AP Photo/David Eggert)

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The head of the Michigan health department was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter, the highest-ranking member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water.

Nick Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014-15. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Lyon also is charged with misconduct in office for allegedly obstructing university researchers who are studying if the surge in cases is linked to the Flint River.

The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, is accused of obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.

Lyon’s failure to act resulted in the death of at least one person, 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, special agent Jeff Seipenko told a judge.

The charges were read in court by Seipenko, a member of the state attorney general’s team. Lyon and Wells were not in court. A message seeking comment was left for Lyon’s attorneys. Wells’ lawyer was not immediately known.

Flint began using water from the Flint River in 2014 while under state emergency management, but did not treat it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old plumbing leached into the water system.

Some experts also have linked the water to Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. People can get sick if they inhale mist or vapor, typically from cooling systems.

There were nearly 100 cases in the Flint area, including 12 deaths, in 2014 and 2015.

Lyon was personally briefed in January 2015 but “took no action to alert the public of a deadly” outbreak until nearly a year later, Seipenko said.

Lyon has admitted that he was aware of the Legionnaires’ outbreak for months but wanted to wait until investigators in the state Health and Human Services Department finished their own probe.

He told state lawmakers that experts likely wanted to “solve the problem” before they raised it with senior officials in the Snyder administration. The investigation, he said, “wasn’t one that was easily solved.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has now charged 15 current or former government officials in an ongoing probe that began in early 2016, including two emergency managers whom Snyder appointed to run the impoverished city of roughly 100,000 residents.

In May, Schuette dropped a misdemeanor charge against a Flint official who cooperated after pleading no contest to willful neglect of duty. And in March, Corrine Miller — the state’s former director of disease control — was sentenced to probation and ordered to write an apology to residents after pleading no contest to willful neglect of duty.

Seipenko said Wells told an investigator that she had no knowledge of the outbreak until late September or early October 2015.

“This was clearly a false statement,” he said, saying she knew as early as March 2015.

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18 thoughts on “Michigan Health Chief Charged In Flint Water Probe

  1. specialt757 on said:

    Because he’s white, and the people affected were poor and of color. White people almost never pay for their crimes against non-whites. That’s Amerikkka.

  2. jhuff if you think President Obama put this country in debt you are surely misinformed. Can you say George Bush a Republican with his billions of dollars spent on two wars and the bailout to Wall Street Republicans! Nobody was crying about the deficit then when Dick Chaney and Haliburton made out like fat cats!

  3. Diane on said:

    @ jhufnpuf. So they are now investigating your prez for abuse of power and obstruction. Where’s his damn taxes??

    • jhuff on said:

      there with Hillary’s e-mails, dam your still harping on that BS Rachael Mad-cow did a entire show on his 05 return it showed he payed 13 million it’s was laughable she had you goobers thinking she had the goods in the end everything was totally legit

      • Diane on said:

        Where’s the real tax returns. Those were nothing burgers. I told you to get your head out of your ass. You knw this fool is a 71y/o man child w/o a brain. He’s dumber than a box of rocks. So are u.

      • worldtraveler on said:

        Those were incomplete documents. You got to watch with the volume turned up!

    • S.D. on said:

      FallMornings, if your question is to me, S.D., and you don’t get my point, then it is pointless for me to attempt any further discussion with you.

  4. I find it quite difficult to believe the governor did not know they pushed the switch that changed the source of water supply to Flint……that entire set of circumstances was intentional and systematically carried out with a designed purpose to affect generations to come.

    • Kind of like the genocide taking place in Chicago Oakland DC Detroit and dozens of Democratic run shit holes thru out this country where elected officials would rather bash Trump than serve their constituency and the uneducated morons keep reelecting them

      • S.D. on said:

        Sort of like those morons in the senate and congress whose only function for 8 years was to sit on viable policies by President Obama that would have benefited individuals. Those morons, Jhuf? Wasn’t it #itch McConnell who said their job was to make President Obama “a one-term president”? That was not their job – – their job was to represent the constituents of their districts and states.

      • Diane on said:

        What about those shit holes in west Va, ala, Louisiana, S Carolina, Texas etc.etc….,and all the other racsit southern shit hole states.

      • jhuff on said:

        (SD) you mean policies Like Obamacare who’s’ roll out was an embarrassment Kathleen Sabilius resigned, the same Obamacare that’s that’s ballooning the national debt, “you mean like the shovel ready jobs” that clueless Obama himself had to embarrassingly admit “they weren’t so shovel ready”

        The Obama Green jobs program that cost 500 million and so far the only ones to profiting are the ones who duped that clown into throwing taxpayer money into them, YES like a parent taking their teens credit card away he had to be stopped or we’d be another Puerto Rico by now
        (Diane) there’s more racial incidents going on in the north these days and those places you named still have lower violent crime than the urban areas I named

      • Tunisia Morse on said:

        I apologize why is Snyder still Governor?
        Please stop blaming Mr. OBama, for ignorant wHite folks and their lawlessness

  5. Governor Snyder needs to go also.
    The POS knew about the contaminated water pipes in Flint and did nothing about.

    A whole lot of heads should roll because of this incident.

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