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Preliminary exam held for top MDHHS official in water crisis trial

The highest ranking state official charged in connection with the water crisis was in a Flint courtroom Thursday. (Photo Credit: Joel Feick) 

FLINT, Mich. – The highest ranking state official charged in connection with the water crisis was in a Flint courtroom Thursday.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon is charged with criminal wrongdoing, but remains on the job.

MDHHS Director Nick Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.

At a preliminary exam, prosecutors alleged he knew about the link between tainted Flint water and legionella back in January of 2015.

But he failed to tell the public about for more than a year.

The number two man at the department said it surprised him about the number of legionella deaths in Flint.

The state says at least a dozen Genesee County residents died of Legionnaires disease in 2014 and 2015.

Since then tests show it was linked to the city changing its water source to Flint river.

Prosecutors allege during the time Lyons didn't alert the public, at least one person died of Legionnaires disease.

By January of 2016, top DHHS officials told the governor.

"There was an a-ha moment we've got something that needs to go to the governor,” said former assistant DHHS director Tim Becker.

He says two days later the governor held a news conference about Legionnaires disease in Flint.


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