FLINT (WWJ) – Is it possible that the defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Flint case could reach a plea deal that would reduce the charges?
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.
Larry Dubin is a law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy and spoke with WWJ’s Sandra McNeill about the charges.
“Manslaughter has a maximum of 15 years in prison, misconduct in office, which is not a statutory offense but a common law criminal offense has a five year maximum so there’s always room for negotiations and I would assume that that is certainly a possibility in this case,” says Dubin.
But Dubin says he believes the length of time state prosecutors took to bring the charges means they’ve done enough investigation to be confident of proving their case.
“You don’t bring charges of this nature — simply on a whim or a guess — so I would assume that they feel that had the Legionnaires’ disease been acknowledged honestly and not in any way kept from the public and that the appropriate officials were aware of that — that these deaths would not have occured — that’s the chain of events that they … believe they can prove.”
At least 91 Legionnaires’ cases were detected in 2014 and 2015, including 12 deaths. Some experts blame Flint’s water, which wasn’t treated at the time to reduce corrosion and became contaminated with lead, but no direct connection has been found.