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Attorneys: Ex-governor charged in wrong county over Flint

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This screen shot from video, shows former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, during his Zoom hearing Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2020, in 67th District Court in Flint, Mich. Attorneys for Snyder are telling prosecutors that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county. Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. (67th District Court in Flint via AP)

LANSING, Mich. – Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county.

Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors.

“Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors.

The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defense in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the Republican former governor.

A hearing took place Tuesday in Snyder’s case. The next hearing was scheduled for Feb. 23.

“The reason we didn't file a motion to dismiss is we're trying to give the government an opportunity to recognize this mistake and voluntarily dismiss the indictment against Gov. Snyder,” Lennon told the judge.

Assistant Attorney General Bryant Osikowicz sought time to see and respond to the pending dismissal motion. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office declined to comment on the venue issue.

Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis, including former state health department director Nick Lyon. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism.