5 people, including Michigan health chief, charged in Flint

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, MI (AP) — Five people, including the head of Michigan’s health department, were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter in an investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water, all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires’ disease.

Nick Lyon became the highest-ranking member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of how Flint’s water system became poisoned after officials tapped the Flint River in 2014.

Lyon, director of the Health and Human Services Department, 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 was linked to the Flint River.

The others are people who were already facing charges. They are: Darnell Earley, who was Flint’s emergency manager when the city used the river; Howard Croft, who ran Flint’s public works department; Liane Shekter Smith; and Stephen Busch. Shekter Smith and Busch were state environmental regulators.

The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, was charged Wednesday with obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.

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