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September 18, 2014

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After dominating headlines in early 2012, Kathleen Vermillion stays out of news

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Steve Marcus

Former Henderson City Councilwoman Kathleen Vermillion

Updated Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 | 2:20 p.m.

Kathleen Vermillion’s precipitous fall began in December 2011 with the quiet announcement that she was resigning her post on the Henderson City Council to spend more time with her family and the nonprofit she founded, the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.

Over the ensuing months, allegations of misspent money at the charity would engulf Vermillion in a storm of controversy, ravaging her reputation and placing her under an FBI investigation.

Shortly after announcing her resignation, news broke that Arash Ghafoori, executive director at the partnership, had filed a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office against Vermillion. Ghafoori specifically questioned spending of $300,000 from the partnership to its sister fundraising organization, the Homeless Youth Foundation, where Vermillion was the chief operating officer.

Vermillion contended the money was used to pay her salary at the foundation while it ramped up fundraising operations and has denied any wrongdoing. A forensic audit completed in March 2012 revealed several instances of questionable spending, including ATM withdrawals, missing invoices and airline tickets for nonbusiness trips.

Vermillion responded to Ghafoori’s questioning by placing him on paid leave. He was later reinstated in January after the agency’s board of directors fired Vermillion.

She would later file a lawsuit against Ghafoori and the partnership, accusing them of defamation. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in 2014.

Vermillion’s personal life also was spilling into the public eye after a high-profile break-up with Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, with whom Vermillion had an on-and-off relationship for several years.

In January 2012, Vermillion filed suit accusing Sisolak and Clark County of defaming her for allegedly spreading the story that she had tested positive for a synthetic opiate. The suit accompanied anallegation that Sisolak had an “improper” relationship with Vermillion’s underage daughter.

Sisolak filed a police report accusing two Vermillion representatives of criminal extortion for asking for $3.9 million to make the lawsuit go away.

Vermillion later dropped the lawsuit against Sisolak and the county, and her daughter recanted her statements, saying she was “coaxed” into making them.

Another twist came when Vermillion was taken to the hospital in early February after overdosing on prescription pills. She denied the overdose was a suicide attempt but said she couldn’t continue to manage her stress with “Xanax and alcohol.”

Vermillion stayed out of the news for the remainder of 2012, although neither the state attorney general nor the FBI have commented on the status of their investigations into Vermillion’s dealings. According to the Clark County Recorder's Office, Vermillion was married in early January to Richard Kelley.

Through an attorney, Vermillion declined comment for this story. Her family trust continues to own a home in Henderson, but contact information on social media sites indicates Vermillion now lives and works in San Diego.

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