The former director of disease control for the state of Michigan was sentenced to probation Monday and ordered to write a letter of apology to the residents of Flint for not telling the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease related to the city’s water crisis.
Corinne Miller, who is now retired, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect last summer, and NBC News reports that while she was not expected to get a jail sentence, the letter of apology was a surprise.
Judge Jennifer Manley said that the apology is “perfectly appropriate in this case.”
According to NBC, Miller said in her plea agreement that she was aware of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area when the city was using a different water source, but she did not report it to the general public. In 2014 and 2015, there were 100 cases of the disease in the Flint area, and a total of 12 deaths.
Flint’s water problems started in 2014 when the city switched from Detroit as a water source to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure. The highly corrosive water was not treated, and it caused lead from the city’s old pipes to leach into the water system.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water. It infects the lungs, and people can get it if they inhale mist or vapor, typically from cooling systems, NBC reports.
Miller was sentenced to one year of probation and 300 hours of community service. Her defense attorney objected to the letter being written because it could be used against Miller in civil lawsuits.
I hope the letter is used against her in civil lawsuits. While Miller got off with the equivalent of a slap on the wrist, the letter of apology is the very least she can do, considering that she essentially contributed to the deaths of 12 people. I have no sympathy for any of the public officials involved in this scandal.
Remember, it’s been nearly three years since the city of Flint has had clean water.
Read more at NBC News.