Thursday, June 10, 2010
E-Mails Show Bosses Covered for Dantis
By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Administrators at the Bernalillo County detox center first learned of the allegations against the son of the deputy county manager nearly two years before an investigation was launched into the complaints and possible cover-up, according to e-mails released by the county.
The e-mails contradict statements County Manager Thaddeus Lucero said were made to him last month by Carl Broach and Dwight Dias, supervisors at the county's Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services facility, known as MATS.
Lucero has said Broach and Dias assured him during a meeting last month that Jamie Dantis was a model employee with a clean record and no complaints during his four years at MATS.
"I absolutely got lied to," Lucero said in an interview on Tuesday. "They sat in my office, and I asked: 'How's (Jamie Dantis) doing? Have there been any problems?' They all said: 'No.'
"Now the stories in the newspaper and the e-mails have clearly shown otherwise. I do not appreciate being lied to. There will be discipline."
The e-mails between Dantis' supervisors and co-workers allege he was coming to work intoxicated, behaving erratically, giving out confidential client information and brandishing a pellet gun at work.
One indicates he was reassigned to a position answering phones and forbidden from interacting with clients and handling medication.
Jamie Dantis, 29, resigned earlier this week after receiving notice that he faced termination over the gun incident.
His father, Deputy County Manager John Dantis, who had supervisory authority over MATS while the younger Dantis worked there, was also present at the meeting in May. Lucero said Wednesday that John Dantis provided no verbal assurances during that meeting.
The e-mails were provided to the Journal in response to a records request and date back to July 2008. Among them:
• One from Jamie Dantis' immediate supervisor, Cecilia Baca, to Jamie Dantis, Dias and Broach saying Jamie had been reassigned "to answer phones in the central intake unit only. ... You are not to drive any company vehicle, do intakes, take custody of medication, or involve yourself in any (MATS) duties."
• Several pieces of correspondence between co-workers and supervisors saying Jamie Dantis had brandished a pellet gun at work.
• Several e-mails among supervisors detailing incidents in which Jamie Dantis left work early without telling anyone and that he had been sent home on other occasions because his behavior had been "very scattered."
• One e-mail from a co-worker to Dias and Baca saying someone had called to "put a complaint on Jamie" that he had given out a client's confidential information.
• One e-mail from a co-worker to Baca saying "Jamie looked like he was under the influence of something. ... Would it be out of line for me to ask why he is not given a (drug test)? He is driving a county vehicle and I think it is very dangerous if he is using drugs."
Ironically, one of the e-mails shows John Dantis requested an investigation into an allegation against his son dealing with misuse of a client's file.
Lucero, who has said he had no knowledge of Jamie Dantis' problems at MATS before the Journal began publishing stories about the allegations last month, was copied on that correspondence.
The e-mail, dated June 24, 2009, from John Dantis to Broach said a woman who had been a client at MATS believed the younger Dantis had her file from the facility at his house and was concerned that it hadn't been returned.
"She is requesting 'proof of verification that (Jamie) Dantis returned my file to MATS,' " John Dantis wrote.
He instructed Broach to "initiate an immediate investigation into this matter. In addition, to ensure there is no conflict of interest or even the appearance of one, please work directly with the county manager."
John Dantis wrote in the e-mail that he provided a copy of the woman's letter to Lucero.
Lucero said Wednesday that he did not recall receiving the e-mail or the woman's letter. He said he didn't know whether an investigation was conducted. He cited a heavy volume of e-mail and said Broach had never contacted him.
"The (e-mail) information you showed is very troublesome to me, and I am going to look into it and address it with John," he told the Journal.
Other e-mails written by Baca and routed to Broach and Dias state that MATS staffers were unable to locate the woman's chart and "there is no documentation on the retrieval log that her chart was pulled."
Those e-mails indicate the woman was a former girlfriend of Jamie Dantis'.
County spokeswoman Liz Hamm later said Broach did conduct an investigation into the woman's claims and had submitted a report.
She obtained a copy late Wednesday. It confirmed the woman's file was missing but could not determine who took it.
On Tuesday, Lucero said that, based on e-mails he had reviewed, he was sure Dias and Broach had lied to him during last month's meeting.
Previously, the Journal reported that Lucero said Broach, Dias and John Dantis all told him they weren't aware of any problems with the younger Dantis.
On Wednesday, Lucero said he had been referring only to Broach and Dias and that John Dantis "did not speak up about problems with Jamie" during that meeting.
After the Journal began publishing stories on problems at MATS early last month, Lucero hired Agnes Fuentevilla Padilla of the Butt, Thornton and Baehr law firm to investigate whether the county's nepotism policy had been violated and whether there had been a cover-up of misconduct by Jamie Dantis.
Meanwhile, Lucero reassigned Jamie Dantis to the county's Parks and Recreation Department and pulled John Dantis' supervisory authority over MATS.
John Dantis declined to answer questions during a County Commission meeting Tuesday.
Lucero said he expects Padilla to conclude her investigation Tuesday.
"I'll look at it and determine the course of discipline," he said. "And I can say with certainty that there will be discipline — all the way up the line."