Michigan health and welfare chief Nick Lyon was “corrupt” in his handling of the Flint area Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and will stand trial on felony charges including involuntary manslaughter, a judge ruled Monday, the Detroit News reports. Judge David Goggins made the announcement in the most anticipated Flint water prosecution case. Lyon shook his head in disappointment as the judge read his ruling.
“I do find based upon the totality of all the evidence … I find this behavior over this time period of withholding information corrupt based upon misconduct in office for probable cause standards,” Goggins said. The judge said Lyon “willfully and neglectfully refused” to protect the lives of two Flint area men who purportedly died from Legionnaires’ by failing to “act to appropriately with regard disseminating notices to the public.” The state’s health chief is the highest-ranking official of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration who has been charged with felonies by Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office concerning the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis. Lyon was charged in connection with the Flint region’s 2014-15 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened another 79 people. There was no public notice about the outbreak until a Snyder mid-January 2016 press conference in Detroit. Lyon “had the ability” to know how many Legionnaires’ disease deaths there were in the Flint area and has the “power” as the state’s health chief to protect lives and “enforce laws” to that end, the judge ruled.