In addition to Lyon, the Attorney General's Office charged four others with involuntary manslaughter Wednesday - former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, former Flint Department of Public Works director Howard Croft, former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Office of Drinking Water chief Liane Shekter-Smith and DEQ District Supervisor Stephen Busch.
Michigan Department of Health Human Services Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells also has been charged with lying to a peace officer and obstruction of justice related to an alleged attempt to stop an investigation into the health crisis in Flint and later misleading investigators as to her actions.
Each of the manslaughter charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years behind bars and a $7,500 fine, while the misconduct charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
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. All defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter are charged in particular for the death of Robert Skidmore, 85, of Mt. Morris, Michigan.
A number of past and present MI state officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter.
"Dr. Wells vehemently denies the charges", defense attorney Jerry Lax said.
Five Michigan state officials will finally be held responsible for their roles in the widespread water contamination crisis that crippled the city of Flint.
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Ruth Carter with the attorney general's office said her office on Monday will provide a list of people to both attorneys to let them know which individuals Lyon and Wells can't contact during the case.
"The true facts simply do not support the prosecution's claims", they said in a statement. Toxic lead from old plumbing leached into the water system, causing elevated levels in children and leaving residents to drink and bathe with bottled or filtered water.
Two of those 15 individuals charged have accepted plea agreements and are cooperating with special prosecutors from the office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. "They can get a conviction but it's not going to be easy".
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.
But the charging document indicates that a McLaren Flint Hospital doctor on June 2, 2015, collected a sample from Skidmore that tested positive for Legionella and that the Genesee County medical examiner will "not refute the medical doctor's findings that Legionnaires' Disease was a cause of Robert Skidmore's death".
The charging documents said that Lyon's "acts and failure to act resulted in the death of at least one person". The Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a report in February blaming "systemic racism" going back decades for the problems that caused the water crisis in Flint.
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