Wells

The Detroit News - - News -

ob­struc­tion of jus­tice re­gard­ing the 2014-15 Le­gion­naires’ out­break in the Flint re­gion.

Craw­ford ad­dressed a court­room with a smaller au­di­ence than the crowd that gath­ered in Au­gust, when 67 th Dis­trict Judge David Gog­gins ruled that Michi­gan health and wel­fare chief Nick Lyon was “cor­rupt” in his han­dling of the Flint area Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease out­break and bound him over for trial on in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and other charges.

Craw­ford read from ex­ten­sive notes and wrapped up his rul­ing in about an hour. By con­trast, Gog­gins spent more than twoand-a-half hours to de­liver his ver­dict.

Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tor Todd Flood left the court­room im­me­di­ately af­ter the rul­ing and had no com­ment. It is un­clear whether the in­com­ing Demo­cratic At­tor­ney Gen­eral Dana Nes­sel will re­tain Flood and his team.

“We are ex­tremely happy with the out­come,” said Paul Stablein, an as­sis­tant spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor on the case with Flood. “It was the cor­rect out­come un­der the cir­cum­stances based upon the ev­i­dence that was pre­sented.

“The judge did a de­tailed anal­y­sis of that. We are happy that he paid at­ten­tion … and that he came to the right con­clu­sion.”

Wells hugged sup­port­ers who gath­ered in the court­room, but had no com­ment.

Steve Tra­mon­tin, one of Wells’ at­tor­neys in the case, said “this is just round one” and they will con­tinue to bat­tle the case in cir­cuit court.

“Dr. Wells is in­no­cent of th­ese charges and we in­tend to con­tinue to fight them,” he said. “And we’re go­ing to move on, move up.”

As for Wells, Tra­mon­tin said, “she’s do­ing fine.”

Wells, like Michi­gan De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Nick Lyon, re­mains on the job de­spite fac­ing crim­i­nal charges. Sny­der has said Lyon and Wells “are pre­sumed in­no­cent un­less and un­til proven guilty be­yond a rea­son­able doubt” and “con­tinue to be in­stru­men­tal in Flint’s re­cov­ery.”

Schuette has called for the two of­fi­cials to re­sign.

Flint Mayor Karen wel­comed the rul­ing.

“I com­mend the judge for look­ing at the ev­i­dence pro­vided and mak­ing a good ju­di­cial de­ci­sion,” Weaver said in a state­ment. “We have been hold­ing our breath as a col­lec­tive since 2014; we are still wait­ing for that mo­ment where we can ex­hale and know that fi­nally, some­thing was done right and our cries were heard.

“Just like the rest of the coun­try, and even more so, we will have our eyes and ears glued to this trial. Flint Lives Mat­ter and we de­serve jus­tice.”

The bind-over de­ci­sion on Wells has been more than a year in the mak­ing fol­low­ing 10 months of on-and-off tes­ti­mony in the case brought by out­go­ing state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette.

Spe­cial pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued that Wells “failed to pre­vent the dan­ger” of the Le­gion­naires’ out­break, which killed 12 and sick­ened

Weaver at least 79 oth­ers in the Flint area.

Pros­e­cu­tors have linked the 2014-2015 out­break to the Flint lead-con­tam­i­nated wa­ter cri­sis, while de­fense at­tor­neys have said many Le­gion­naires’ cases could be traced to the wa­ter at a Flint hos­pi­tal. In ad­di­tion, the de­fense has ar­gued that Wells didn’t as­cend to her state po­si­tion un­til May 2015, well into the out­break.

Wells be­comes the third Flin­tre­lated de­fen­dant to go to crim­i­nal trial.

In ad­di­tion to Lyon, for­mer Flint Emer­gency Man­ager Ger­ald Am­brose waived his pre­lim­i­nary exam and headed straight to trial. Am­brose, who ran the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of Flint for the first four months of 2015 af­ter be­ing ap­pointed by Sny­der, is charged with com­mit­ting false pre­tenses and con­spir­acy to com­mit false pre­tenses, as well as a charge of mis­con­duct in of­fice and a mis­de­meanor count of will­ful ne­glect of duty.

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