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Judge won't dismiss charge against Snyder's former chief of staff

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A judge has denied a defense motion to dismiss a perjury charge against a former top aide to former Gov. Rick Snyder.

Jarrod Agen was Snyder’s communications director and chief of staff.

He’s among nine people, including the former governor, recently criminally charged as part of the state's investigation into the Flint water crisis.  

State officials oversaw the transition of the city’s drinking water source from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in 2014. But the river water was not properly treated. The corrosive water damaged pipes, releasing lead and other contaminants into Flint’s drinking water. After 18 months, the water source was switched back. However, not before Flint residents were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water. During the same period, a Legionnaires' Disease outbreak killed at least a dozen people in Genesee County.

In court Monday, Defense Attorney Seth Waxman asked 7th Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Kelly to dismiss the indictment against his client. Waxman challenged the jurisdiction of the one-man grand jury that issued the indictment and the fact Agen is facing trial in Genesee County.   

But Waxman’s most spirited argument centered on the fact that they still don’t know what Agen is accused of lying about.

“We’re at least two months into this case, and my client Mr. Agen sits here today still not knowing what he’s alleged to have done wrong,” says Waxman.

Another circuit court judge is currently going over the evidence presented to the grand jury.  Once that judge has determined which evidence is relevant, he plans to distribute it to prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Flint water crisis cases. However, that likely will not happen until June, at the earliest.

“This case is sort of in a holding pattern,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Jenkins told the court Monday.

Judge Kelly denied the defense motions to dismiss the case against Agen. But she did suggest once the evidence is available, the defense may try to revisit some of the issues.

If convicted of the felony perjury charge, Jarrod Agen could be sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

A district court in Flint is scheduled to hear motions Tuesday in the misdemeanor case against Rick Snyder.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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