Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2017

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Vermillion sues charity she founded, alleging defamation


Leila Navidi

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.

Former Henderson Councilwoman Kathleen Vermillion is suing the charity she founded, claiming defamation.

Vermillion says in the suit she was defamed when negative information about her was discussed internally at the youth charity and also was leaked to other parties including the Clark County Commission and the news media.

An attorney for Vermillion, Neil Ackerman, filed suit Tuesday in Clark County District Court against the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY).

Also sued were its board members, Executive Director Arash Ghafoori and a related fundraising arm called the Homeless Youth Foundation.

In a statement Wednesday, the NPHY said it couldn’t comment on specific allegations since its officials hadn’t read the complaint, but added that ''we are confident that the facts of this case will provide the truth and that our forensic audits by independent auditors will enhance our position even more.''

''Sadly, this may be nothing more than a desperate attempt to vilify an entire board of volunteers and leadership team that have given tirelessly and lovingly to a worthwhile endeavor that has helped thousands of young men and women find assistance in their desperate times of need,'' the statement said.

The lawsuit follows a suit filed by Vermillion in January against Clark County and her former boyfriend, County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, also alleging defamation.

Vermillion later dropped the suit against the county and Sisolak after Sisolak said it was part of a $3.9 million shakedown effort.

Both suits cover a period last year in which Vermillion was chief operating officer of the youth charity and allegations of financial improprieties and mismanagement arose. Vermillion has since been fired as COO.

The suits say that after problems emerged in the management of the charity, and allegations of financial irregularities arose, the NPHY board required Vermillion and Ghafoori to take drug tests.

Vermillion’s test was positive for a synthetic opiate, which she attributed to a pain reliever for a migraine headache.

In the now-dropped suit against Sisolak and the county, Vermillion claimed NPHY board members improperly disclosed the drug test results to Sisolak.

Tuesday’s suit reiterates the claim that the drug test information was leaked by NPHY board members ''to the media and to the Clark County Commission in violation of HIPAA (the health privacy law) and Kathleen’s right to privacy.''

The suit further accuses Ghafoori of presenting false information to the NPHY board about alleged mismanagement and financial irregularities involving Vermillion.

Finally, it claims that when the NPHY board fired Vermillion, it also without authority fired her from the related group, the Homeless Youth Foundation (HYF) fundraising entity.

Her firing from the HYF was without authority since HYF has a separate board, the suit says.

The suit says Vermillion ''is entitled to her lost pay, interest on the lost pay and reinstatement in her employment position with HYF.''

The suit seeks unspecified damages including punitive damages. It comes against the backdrop of what has been reported to be investigations by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office and the FBI involving Vermillion — including her actions at both the NPHY and the Henderson City Council.

She resigned from the City Council in early January, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family and at the NPHY. That was before she was fired by the NPHY board.

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