Executive Summary of the June 15,2010 Investigation Report

Summary Description: This summary is a condensed version of the complete Investigation Report dated June 15,2010. As a summary, it does not contain a recitation of all relevant County policy, it does not provide all factual findings from the investigation, and it does not include a complete recitation of the recommendations and conclusions of the author. While all key points of the June 15,2010 Investigation Report are included in this summary, it should not be used to reach any conclusions regarding the scope of the investigation, the findings, or the detailed recommendations to the County.

I. OESCRIPTION OF ALLEGATION:

The media, citing various anonymous sources, has questioned whether or not Bernalillo County (the "County") treated employee Jamie Dantis ("Dantis") more favorably than other employees because his father is the Deputy County Manager for Public Safety (the "DCM").

II. THE\IE OF THE INVESTIGATION:

I t IS essential to the efficient and effective operation of government that it has the public's trust. To maintain the public's trust, a government must eliminate any situations that create the appearance ofproviding preferential or favorable treatment. To help eliminate such situations, the County has adopted a Nepotism Policy that prohibits one employee from working in a near relative's chain of command.

F ai lure to adhere to the Nepotism Policy could lead to a lack of trust in the County. The practice of nepotism creates a situation where a particular employee is given favorable treatment because of his or her relationship to someone in the chain of command. The incidents set forth in this summary appear to show that Dantis was employed in violation of the Nepotism Policy and that he received favorable treatment from his supervisors. This combination of factors led to a lack of trust by other County employees.

III. WIT.'\iESSES:

Numerous witnesses were interviewed to develop facts for this summary. The interviews were not recorded, so the facts contained in this summary were complied using notes taken during the interview. Much of the information obtained during the investigation was gathered from nonmanagement level employees during the interview process; therefore, reference to such employees in the report has been kept generic (eg. Employee A). Managerial employees have been identified by title. Clients and fanner clients have been referred to generically (e.g. Client A) to protect the pri vacy of the client.

IV. INVESTIGA TlVE FINDINGS:

A. Dantis' hiring violated the County Nepotism Policy:

The County hired Dantis to work at the MATS facility, which falls within the Department of Public Safety and is under the supervision of his father. His father was also the Interim Director of the Department of Substance Abuse Programs. Though there were a number oflevels of supervision between Dantis and the DCM, the potential influence of the DCM over Dantis' employment was present from the moment Dantis was hired.

The County Nepotism Policy was not followed with respect to the hiring of Dan tis. That he was employed within the chain of command of his father was in violation of the Nepotism Policy. Moreover, he did not clearly satisfy posted qualifications for the position of Substance Abuse Tech. According to a witness who participated in the hiring process for Dantis, the DCM encouraged him ,1110 the Clinically Managed Detox Supportive Aftercare Community MATS Facility management Program Manager (the "Program Manager") to hire Dantis despite their concerns with his qualifications and the short length of time that Dantis had been in recovery. This instruction may have set the tone for the remainder of Dantis' employment. As shown in this summary of the Investigation Report, there were a number of times Dantis received favorable treatment, often from the Program Manager. While there is no evidence that Dantis received the favorable treatment because of any specific instruction from the DCM, the relationship creates the appearance that the treatment was a result of nepotism.

Dantis ' hiring is also a prime example of another purpose behind the Nepotism Policy. By having his son in his chain of command, the DCM had the potential to be placed in conflict between the needs of the County and the needs of his son. Based on witness statements, the DCM may have placed the needs of his son over those of the County when it came to Dantis ' hiring. This conflict demonstrates the need for the Nepotism Policy and why it is important that it be followed in order for the County to maintain the trust of the public and its employees.

B. Dantis was observed with a pellet gun on County property:

Three County employees observed Dantis in possession of a pellet gun on County property.

One employee, at the request of the Program Supervisor Detox and Supportive Aftercare Program (the "Program Supervisor"), documented her observation of the incident in writing. Two other employees state that they verbally advised the Program Supervisor and Program Manager about the incident. \Vhile both the Program Supervisor and Program Manager claim they asked Dantis about the incident, neither of them did a thorough investigation or reported the incident to Human Resources ('"HR"). Even Dantis denies that he was ever spoken to about the incident. Given the strict Counry policy on workplace violence and the potential severity of the situation, the Program Supervisor and Program Manager should have taken additional steps with respect to investigating the Incident and disc i plining Dantis.

The County has a "zero-tolerance" policy against acts of workplace violence. Workplace \ iolcnce includes, among other things, brandishing any device principally designed to cause bodily

injury. Any employee who violates the policy is subject to corrective action or discipline, including termination of employment.

Our investigation reveals that Dantis violated the County Workplace Violence Policy. He brought a pellet gun, which would be considered a weapon, onto County property and into the !\IATS facility. Pursuant to County policy, the supervisor or director should have investigated the incident. However, neither the Program Manager nor the Program Supervisor followed policy because their investigation was, at most, an interview of Dan tis, the taking of employee statements, and a cursory inspection of Dantis ' work area.

Supervisors stated that the Program Manager and Program Supervisor should have consulted with the HR Department or further up the chain of command regarding the investigation and potential discipline Of special concern is that not only did Dantis have a pellet gun, but the employees who observed him with the pellet gun stated that he appeared to be in an altered state at the time. The Program Supervisor reported the incident up the chain of command to the Program Manager: however, he did not consult with HR or further up the chain of command regarding the Investigation or potential discipline and no action was taken against Dantis for violation of the Workplace Violence Policy. Given this combination of facts and the strict County policy against workplace violence, the reaction of the Program Supervisor and especially the Program Manager to the incident demonstrates likely favorable treatment of Dantis.

C. A client observed Dantis going through a misplaced backpack:

A client of~lATS reported to an employee that she saw Dantis searching through a wallet Cound in a misplaced backpack. No employee personally witnessed this incident. The Program \IJnager and Program Supervisor claim it is consistent with County policy for an employee to look through a misplaced article in an effort to identify the owner. However, other County employees believe Dantis should have asked to see if anyone recognized the backpack or, ifgoing through the backpack became necessary, that he should have done so in the presence of another employee. No Items were reported missing and, since County policy is not clear on proper procedure, it does not appear Dantis did anything in violation of County policy.

Since nothing was reported missing from the backpack, no further action against Dantis was necessary. However, it is interesting to note the Program Manager's reaction to the incident. He included a report in Dantis ' file despite the fact that no other incident in this summary elicited the same response. The report included a notation that Dantis "followed protocol regarding unattended bags and items left." Another witness does not recall that notation being on the report when it was originallv placed into Dantis ' department file. Moreover, the report is dated December 17, 2009 while the note is dated "December 17,2010." The incorrect year suggests that the note may have been created in 2010. The fact that the Program Manager did not sign the report until December 23, 2009, six days after his note, is also odd. The odd sequence of dates suggests the report may have been altered at a later date. Though there is no direct evidence that the Program Manager needed to discipline Dantis, his odd reaction could be viewed to suggest he was making an effort to protect Dantis

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D. \;Icdication was occasionallv missing from the MATS locker:

Various County employees claim medication from the medicine locker would go missing and they believe Dantis was involved. Dantis' access to the medication locker was eventually revoked by the Program Supervisor and simultaneously or shortly thereafter, the practice of handling medication at MA TS changed. The changes included keys being assigned to one holder per shift, a camera being installed in the locker area, and other changes with respect to counting and verification. After the changes, missing medication was no longer a problem. It is impossible to determine whether the results are attributable to the new policy or the revocation of Dan tis' access, but the revised policy appears to have been effective.

rvlATS intake staff are required to record all medications on the Property Inventory Log and count all narcotics, mood-altering and potentially hazardous medication. All medications are then to be stored in the locked medication locker. Only the Facilities Program Manager, the Clinical Services Program Manager, and a designated staff person for each shift are supposed to have access to the locked medication locker.

Our investigation did not substantiate the allegation that Dantis took medication from the locker. What it did reveal is, at some point, he was assigned to CIU and no longer responsible for dispensing medication. The employees believe Dantis was prevented from dispensing medication because of the questionable incidents described in this summary as well as other incidents involving missing medication. The Program Supervisor, however, stated that the only reason Dantis was exclusively assigned to CIU was because of his intake and charting skills. Various emails contradict this statement and establish that Dantis was reassigned to CIU because of concerns regarding his "mental health" and work performance. Nonetheless, there is no direct proof Dantis was responsible for missing medication.

E. Dantis used donated leave from the OeM to attend rehabilitation and for other purposes:

Dantis used donated leave from his father to attend rehabilitation in California. The oeM not only donated leave, as permitted under certain circumstances by County policy, but he also was the person who requested the leave on behalf of his son. Though he donated the leave to Dantis through HR., neither he nor Dantis filled out paperwork required by County policy. As such, there is no document outlining how the County determined that the donated time was being used for a "critical circumstance" as required under County policy. It also appears that Dantis misused the donated leave by making a personal trip to Florida, following rehabilitation, where he was charged with credit card fraud. Neither the Program Supervisor nor Program Manager made much effort to determine or document why Dantis was on leave. Dantis was also not required by the Program Supervisor to provide a "ready for work" certificate when he was done with rehabilitation.

Employees can use sick, annual or unpaid leave for rehabilitation. Authorized leave must be approved by the Department Director or Deputy County Manager and a completed "Request for [. ea vc" form 11111.\ { be submi tted to the Human Resources Department before authorized leave may be taken .. -\n employee may, at the discretion of the County, donate annual leave to another employee. Before doing so, the Human Resources Department must determine whether the receiving employee

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is in need of sick leave hours due to "critical circumstances." The guidelines were not followed in Dantis ' case.

It is important that employees working in a substance abuse facility not use drugs or misuse alcohol. The fact that Dantis relapsed to the point he needed rehabilitation should have concerned everybody. As such, management should have documented and verified the need for leave and, upon his return, verified whether he was fit to return to work as a Substance Abuse Tech. However, there is no such documentation in Dantis ' HR file, department file or medical file. There is also no application for FMLA leave. The failure to properly document and verify can be attributed to almost every supervisor of Dantis, including the Program Supervisor, the Program Manager, the DSAP Clinical Manager, and the DSAP Administrator.

Although the DCM was aware that his son was in Florida and arrested during his use of donated leave. he did not communicate this knowledge or knowledge of other arrests to anyone in his department or the County. Moreover, Dantis continued to use donated leave upon his return, without verification of critical circumstances or need. The DCM's inaction with respect to his son's possible misuse of donated leave exhibits the need for enforcement of the Nepotism Policy. His role as Dantis' father may have influenced his decision to not report the possible misuse of donated leave.

F. Dantis "vas not drug tested following an accident on County property:

Dantis was involved in two motor vehicle accidents while he was employed with the County.

The circumstances ofneither accident, however, required a drug or alcohol test according to County policy. In neither accident were there injuries or property damage significant enough to trigger the County testing policy. As such, County policy was not violated. It should be noted, however, that the Program Supervisor had prohibited Dantis from transporting clients approximately one month prior to one of the accidents. If Dantis was transporting a client in violation of her directive, then he was III breach of County policy.

All employees of the County shall be subject to post-accident testing. However, only certain types of accidents require testing. Accidents that require testing are those where 1) a life was lost; 2) the driver was cited and any involved person was transported for medical care; 3) the driver was cited and an involved vehicle was removed from the scene other than on its own power; or 4) the employee is subject to a collective bargaining agreement. Moreover, County employees may only operate a County vehicle as authorized by a supervisor. Unauthorized use of a County vehicle may result in discipline up to and including dismissal.

If Dantis was prohibited from doing transports at the time of the second accident, he was in violation of County policy. There is a witness statement in Dantis' department file which indicates a client was being transported at the time of the second accident. It is not clear, however, whether an exception was made to the Program Supervisor's directive that Dantis not operate a County vehicle or whether the directive had been withdrawn. Grounds for a reasonable suspicion drug or alcohol test may have existed if Oantis was in direct violation of the Program Supervisor's directive at the time of the accident or because the accident occurred approximately one month after he returned frorn rehabi I i ration.

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C. Variolls emplovees observed Dantis impaired at work:

Various County employees believed Dantis was impaired at work. They thought Dantis was impaired based on their observation of him falling asleep at his desk, having dilated pupils, and engaging in odd behavior. They reported these observations to the Program Manager and Program Supervisor both verbally and in writing on numerous occasions. Despite these reports, neither the Program Manager nor Program Supervisor admits having observed Dantis in an impaired state. Neither re ferred him for reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing as required by County policy.

No employee is permitted to perform job functions while abusing controlled substances or alcohol. Supervisors are required to observe all employees for signs of impairment and properly document all observations. A supervisor is also required to take seriously any reports of impairment by other employees and immediately begin the observation process. All employees are subject to reasonable suspicion testing, which is performed when a supervisor believes an employee's behavior i nd icates controlled su bstance or alcohol abuse.

A number of employees observed and documented Dantis' questionable behavior at work; however, he was never disciplined. Though the Program Supervisor sent him home on a number of occasions because he was impaired, she never observed him as required by County policy or referred him for drug and alcohol testing as required by County policy. Dantis admits that he nodded offat work on only one occasion, but claims he was adjusting to medication. The DCM also claims that Dantis was having difficulty with medication. However, the DCM allowed Dantis to go to work because Dantis insisted he could perform his job. Moreover, the DCM was aware of his son's problems and did not take steps to notify his supervisors or protect the County from potential harm from Dantis ' conduct. The OGv! relied on his son to self-report any problems regarding his medication.

There is a record of another employee nodding off at work during the graveyard shift. That employee received a reprimand on December 2, 2009 from the Program Manager, which is a markedly different response from the latitude shown to Dantis.

Nobody in management took action with respect to Dantis ' questionable behavior. They indicated that Dautis was seeing a physician and adjusting to medication, but there was no documentation for this claim provided or requested by any County manager. There is nothing in Dantis ' medical file indicating that he had a medical condition, that he was taking medication, or that he requested any accommodation. It appears that management, especially the Program Manager and Program Supervisor, gave Dantis the benefit of the doubt without verifying his allegations. As a result, Dantis was treated differently than a similarly situated employee.

H. Dantis was engaged in a romantic relationship with former clients:

Several witnesses believe Oantis engaged in a romantic relationship with one or more former c'! ien ts o f i\ I.~TS. .\ I though management was aware of rumors regarding Dantis ' relationships, no .icuons were taken to protect the clients' personal information or keep Dantis from sen' icing those clicuts. The perception among employees is that Dantis was not held to the same standard regarding elating former clients as was other staff. There were concerns that a former employee was dating

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former Client A and concerns regarding that employee's professional boundaries. That employee was subsequently terminated. On the other hand, Dantis was never disciplined or even counseled regarding his relationships with former clients.

The file of one client that Dantis' dated went missing. Though there was no evidence that Dantis was responsible for the missing file, the incident supports the need for a more sound policy regarding the dating of current or former clients. Many employees are in recovery and participate in programs outside of work that involve other people in recovery. Because of this, relationships are built outside of work that include much of the same population served through the County programs. The policy may need to be revised to address previous relationships and to be more specific about Situations involving relationships built before the person became a client. In any case, the policy needs to be enforced equally and procedures should be put in place to assure that those individuals who are fraternizing with clients, if it continues to be allowed, are separated from files and other information concerning the client.

V. CONCLl'SION

It appears the Program Supervisor, Program Manager, DCM and Dantis may have violated County policy with respect to a number of incidents concerning Dantis. The most serious incidents are the pellet gun incident, the use of donated leave to attend rehabilitation in California, and showing up to work impaired. The common theme with these incidents is that Dantis' behavior was overlooked or excused by management. While the Program Supervisor notified the Program Manager of Dantis ' behavior on several occasions, she did little beyond that to have her concerns addressed. There are also a number of examples where the Program Manager took no further action with respect to incidents involving Dantis.

There is no direct evidence that the Program Manager or Program Supervisor acted in a spec i fie manner because Dantis father is in their chain of command. However, violation of the Nepotism Policy. which put Dantis in the chain of command of his father, created the perception that Dantis was given favorable treatment because of his father and led to mistrust by both employees and the public at large. More importantly, it led to a lackofsolid, independent judgment on the part of management and employees.

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