Vermillion speaks out as charity faces loss of funding

Darcy Spears

Vermillion speaks out as charity faces loss of funding

CREATED Feb. 6, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A big chunk of county money originally granted to Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth may be cut Tuesday.

County commissioners plan to discuss how many of your tax dollars will continue to fund the charity, which has been mired in controversy since its founder was accused of misappropriating funds.

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears sat down with charity founder Kathleen Vermillion, who's speaking to Action News for the first time.

"I've got to be honest with you, Darcy.  I wish the organization the best.  My heart and soul belongs to those kids and at the end of the day, I don't care what anybody says."

A lot of people are saying a lot of things about Kathleen Vermillion.

NPHY Executive Director Arash Ghafoori has accused her of misappropriating funds.

"The result of what's happened remains to be seen," Ghafoori says.

Board Vice Chairman John Simmons has accused her of keeping them in the dark about finances.

"It was questionable what's being put before us.  And it was very alarming to me."

Simmons uses Vermillion's cell phone bill as an example, saying it exceeded $2,000 a month.

"I have been on boards for over 30 years and spent a lot of time in non-profit organizations. I have never seen anything like this.  Nothing," says Simmons.

"If the allowable expenditures of the old board of directors were no longer acceptable to the new board, then all they needed to do was create an agenda item and change that," Vermillion counters.

Vermillion says she's being thrown under the bus for things that are not her fault.

"I went from the frying pan into the fire, but I'll tell you this, Darcy, I will survive.  I'm never gonna recover but I will survive."

She's suing the county and her ex-boyfriend -- Commissioner Steve Sisolak -- for defamation.

And in a report to police, he has accused her and her former legal team of extortion to the tune of $3.9 million.

Both the State Attorney General and the FBI are investigating.

And in the wake of all that, NPHY could lose $100,000 tax dollars that commissioners would divert.

"I think the mentality should be to continue supporting the good work we do and allow us under new leadership to make the changes we need to be as transparent as possible and to provide the best possible service delivery we can," Ghafoori says.

Vermillion was recently ousted by the board.

"And they're saying 'all of our problems with money are now gone because Kathleen is gone,' Spears told Vermillion.

"Right," she responded.  "Which I would... Socrates said there are only two types of men: the fools who think they're wise and the wise who know they're fools." 

NPHY hopes to convince the county that their money will be in good hands moving forward.

"You think the problems all point back to one person?" Spears asked Simmons.

"I do," he responded.

"I'm one of the founders of the organization," Vermillion says through tears.  "Despite what the Board thinks or what they've done, you know, they can't take that out of my heart."

Vermillion believes the FBI and Attorney General will find the allegations against her are false.

But she says her biggest concern remains the homeless teens who rely on NPHY for everything --  from counseling for very complicated issues to simple necessities like having a place to do a load of laundry or take a shower.

Action News will be at Tuesday's County Commission meeting to let you know what happens with NPHY's funding.