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April 17, 2014

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Vermillion may step aside as embattled head of homeless youth organization

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Former Henderson City Councilwoman Kathleen Vermillion

Kathleen Vermillion said Tuesday she would likely step aside as the embattled head of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth rather than allow scandal to sink the 12-year-old organization.

She also said her doctor has told her to take medical leave because tests have revealed a “substance or cyst” on her brain, which she said is causing migraine headaches.

Vermillion said she has been in contact with two other organizations in Clark County that deal with homeless youth. A source said those groups are WestCare Foundation and HELP of Southern Nevada. Either organization, sources said, could take over Vermillion’s nonprofit group, which helps provide temporary housing for homeless youth under age 18.

Representatives from WestCare and HELP could not be immediately reached.

Meanwhile, interim executive director Arash Ghafoori, who complained to the state attorney general about Vermillion’s handling of the organization’s finances and who then was placed on paid leave by Vermillion, has been reinstated by the organization’s board of directors. His attorney, Adam Levine, said Ghafoori was expected to return to work today.

Vermillion’s remarks to the Sun followed by a day a pair of he-said she-said news conferences. At the first one, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak alleged that Vermillion was trying to shake him down for $3.9 million to avoid a lengthy court battle. Vermillion had filed suit against him and Clark County last week alleging defamation and invasion of privacy. The suit says Sisolak and county staff shared the results of drug tests done on Vermillion.

On Sunday, Sisolak and his attorney met with Vermillion’s attorney Rob Martin and Mark Fierro, a public relations adviser, who asked for $3.9 million to settle the lawsuit. Sisolak responded by filing charges of criminal extortion against Vermillion, Martin and Fierro. Metro Police are investigating the matter.

Vermillion and Sisolak had dated for five years before they broke up in October.

In reply to Sisolak’s contention, Vermillion’s attorney held a rebuttal news conference and played a video clip of Vermillion’s 15-year-old daughter characterizing Sisolak as “creepy” and saying he took her shopping at Victoria’s Secret a few times. (Sisolak said that was during trips to the mall, and that the teenager purchased age-appropriate clothing under the label “Pink.”)

Sisolak and Vermillion in 2008

Clark County Commission District A candidate Steve Sisolak talks with supporters with his then-girlfriend Kathleen Vermillion during a political mixer at the Pizza Caffe in Henderson Tuesday, October 14, 2008. Launch slideshow »

By Tuesday afternoon, Vermillion said the stress has taken a toll on her health. During the interview she muted the phone for a minute, returned and said she had vomited due to stress.

Vermillion, who recently resigned from the Henderson City Council, said that the day after media coverage of Ghafoori’s complaint to state prosecutors, donors to the homeless organization asked for refunds totaling $27,000.

“And now it’s just mounting and mounting and mounting,” she added. “At the end of the day, nobody won. (My daughter) is hurt. Half the board members have left.”

She insisted that she spent none of her agency’s money improperly. As evidence, she notes that Clark County recently approved the Partnership’s grant application for $214,217.

“But my reputation is completely destroyed,” she also said. “People think I’m stealing from the charity but I’m not.”

But she might have run afoul of federal rules that ban charitable organizations from contributing to political groups, violations of which can lead to the loss of tax-exempt status.

Records show, for instance, that the Partnership gave $1,000 on March 1, 2010, to the campaign to elect Rory Reid as governor. Vermillion said she thought that was to pay for an advertisement on Reid’s campaign website.

Partnership records, which are part of the letter Ghafoori sent to the attorney general, also show $500 was paid to the Nevada Policy Research Institute in September 2010 and $300 was paid to the ACLU of Nevada in September 2011.

Of her future, Vermillion said she has an offer to do similar work for the homeless in San Diego.

“I don’t want to move,” she added, “but I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll be able to stay out of the media if I stay.”

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  1. In Vegas...

    NOTHING is left untouched by greed.
    At the end of the day, everything revolves around $$, in some form or fashion.
    Vermillion has some tangible assets...
    though they aren't traditionally negotiable, they can be traded upon over and over and over...generating cash like an ATM.
    As an added bonus, they make a handy place for campaign stickers.

  2. Upon moving to Nevada, I found that it is quite common for aggressive individuals in an organization or relationship to take advantage of any weakness a person has so that they might gain an advantage and move up the career ladder, or, secure favors, financial and otherwise. Worse yet, if one gets entangled with a partner in another faith, one gets persecuted, their life and finances shattered, and are abused.

    I swear, a person makes an honest mistake (as I believe Ms.Vermillion has done), and competitive peers are ready to make an opportunity out of you, jumping all over you and ruining your life and career!

    My thoughts are, since Ms.Vermillion has a school aged child, she would be doing the best thing to move to California or where ever, to salvage what's left of her life. For being a state full of God fearing people, so called Christians in particular, a person once persecuted, will have an enduring target on their back while here. Some Nevadans are the most judgemental, hateful, and most cruel individuals on the planet. And if you are a lovely blonde, the target covers you, many will label you a "Gold Digger". Sad to say.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  3. Star...
    What about the $3.9 MILLION DOLLARS???

  4. I can see it now: "The cyst made me do it," defense. Well, if Dan White "Milked" the system and got away with the "Twinkie" defense, why not try the "cyst" defense? What was that Shakespear famously wrote about lawyers?

  5. Gawd I LOVE our local politicians. Crooked as the day is long, but, that's what built Vegas, only problem is, back in the time, when organized crime ran the city, THAT was the only crime. Streets were safe to walk, did not get mugged for winnings, they actually knew how to treat the people right (except those that cheated - and they got dealt with in a swift manner). My Dad used to come here in the 60's, when he died in '99, his lament was that as Hughes replaced organized crime, subsequently being kicked out of power by the Mormons, that the city was NOT SAFE any more.

  6. they have ATM receipts where she took cash out of the foundation bank account. That was not stealing???? she books the presidential suite at a lux San Diego hotel for a 'conference' or something. Thats not stealing??? Not even commercial, for profit organizations cant afford to do that but she is ok with using donated money to pamper herself. TRASH.

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those that havent got it." - shaw

  7. oh boo hoo, she might have to move to San Diego. She should be moving to prison with her junkie son. Pure trash.

  8. "Life is a sum of all your choices" - Albert Camus

    She vomited from stress?.....the rest of us vomited when she used her daughter to shake down a good man.

  9. Steve Sisolak is one of very few local politicians that seem to above reproach, have uncompromisable integrity, and are willing to stand up to bullies. He obviously made a poor choice in a girlfriend. Sadly, it took five years for her true self to manifest itself to the point where he said no more. Now she drags him into her messes. Ms. Vermillion appears to me to be a parasite who is angry that she couldn't wheedle more out of Mr. Sisolak. Sad situation for Mr. Sisolak. I hope he emerges relatively unscathed, and this gold digger gets nothing but a prison sentence if in fact she stole form the charity.

  10. The real question we should all be asking:

    Are those things real?

    It's easy to see why Steve Sisolak hooked up with her. I wonder if he even knows what color her eyes are.

  11. Looks like she's trying to back peddle, and garner some sympathy after realizing the political powers she's up against.

    She found her passion of helping homeless youth, and did an amazing job of building the organization with the help of the our community and Govt. I believe she made financial mistakes within that organization, but also believe, she should take responsibility, admit her errors, and make necessary restitution to regain the confidence of the public and those under her authority. I think she should keep her position as head of NPHY... In my opinion, that's where she belongs. Her mistake was to get into politics, A whole different world, that seems to focus more on ME, then on the people it's supposed to work for, and help.

  12. Noon news on TV just reported that Ms. Boutin-Vermillion has been "placed on administrative leave" at the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. So there's no telling if her stepping aside was voluntary or decided by whoever is left running the charity's Board of Directors.

    According to the various press stories, Boutin-Vermillion was the senior employee of the charity. Out of curiosity I'd like to know:

    (1) how much she was paid in salary and benefits, and for how long,

    (2) whether her compensation was consistent with that of other employee-leaders of charities in Nevada,

    (3) the identities of the Board of Directors members who agreed to hire her, to pay her current salary/benefits and to put her on "administrative leave",

    (4) what her academic and experience qualifications were to run this charity,

    (5) whether the charity is in any donation-splitting arrangement with other charities like a "United Way"

    (6) whether the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth in any way, shape or form runs a clinic which dispenses methadone and for what reasons the methadone dispensed and

    (7) is it legal in Nevada for a doctor to prescribe the use of methadone as an "analgesic" for chronic pain, or is it only legally used to wean someone off heroin?

    No one in the Nevada press, print or TV, is giving us this sort of detail.

    Being naive, I find it VERY ODD for a well-paid employee, living a more-lavish-than-normal private life thanks to friends or family, having methadone show up in their blood test. Then again, well publicized stories about Ted Binion's lifestyle, leading up to his death, show that one could have everything life has to offer but still be hooked on one kind of illegal drug or another.

    Have we reached the point where all charities, companies, government agencies and other employers need to adopt an official "written policy" making it a fire-able offense for an employee to be using illegal drugs while not on the job? Or will we see lawsuits from well connected employees because those written policies are not in place, but they are fired "for cause", i.e. illegal drug addiction? Are Nevadan's charitable donation dollars (or in the case of drug addicted public employees Nevadan's tax dollars) going to be wasted defending these sorts of wrongful termination lawsuits? What is the broad economic impact of drug addicted employees stealing from their employers across Nevada?

    Does Nevada need to pass a law specifically, affirmatively requiring relatives and live-in friends to report illegal drug use by their relatives or roommates to law enforcement?

    Perhaps if Ted Binion had been locked up for his illegal drug use, he would not be dead. Do the Clark County and the District Attorney's office and the U.S. Attorney for Nevada have a 'double standard' of non-prosecution or probation for illegal drug use by the rich or well connected, versus criminal prosecution and jail time for illegal drug use by the poor?

  13. I hope that whoever offered her a similar job in San Diego pays attention to this whole smarmy mess.