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Story updated (Friday, June 25, 2010, 2:50 p.m.)
Updated: County Intends To Fire MATS Manager

Dantis Retires Amid Controversy

By Jeff Proctor
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer

          John Dantis, Bernalillo County's longtime public safety boss, is retiring, according to a top county official.
    His retirement follows an investigation into whether he and others covered up wrongdoing by his son, who worked under Dantis' chain of command at the county's detox center.
        Other employees at the embattled Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services, known as MATS, have received disciplinary letters in connection with the investigation, County Commission Chairman Art De La Cruz told the Journal.
        At least one of those employees received a termination letter, De La Cruz said.
        He would not say who received the letters but that "three or four of them" had been sent to "the key players."
        "I don't know the extent of the individuals' infractions, but I do feel that there needed to be, and I hope that there is some very substantive discipline," De La Cruz said. "Because this has been unsettling for the public, and it has been unsettling for the commission. I as a commissioner have not appreciated the situation."
        Previously, County Manager Thaddeus Lucero has said MATS supervisors Carl Broach and Dwight Dias "absolutely lied" to him when he asked them in an April meeting whether there had been any problems with Jamie Dantis, who is John Dantis' son.
        Lucero has said Dias and Broach told him during that meeting that Jamie Dantis had a spotless personnel record and that no complaints had been made against him.
        Dantis, Broach and Dias could not be reached for comment.
        The meeting came after the Journal reported that Jamie Dantis had a criminal record and at least one complaint had been filed against him at MATS.
        Lucero today is expected to announce disciplinary actions resulting from a private law firm's investigation into complaints against Jamie Dantis and the alleged coverup. The investigation also was supposed to examine whether the county's nepotism policies were violated.
        Lucero has also said the investigation would look into whether John Dantis violated county policy by not disclosing his son's arrests to Lucero.
        A county spokeswoman said Lucero will release at least an "executive summary" of the report, which presumably details the investigation conducted by Agnes Fuentevilla Padilla of the Butt, Thornton and Baehr law firm.
        Further Journal stories detailed e-mails between Jamie Dantis' supervisors and co-workers alleging he had come to work intoxicated, behaved erratically, gave out confidential client information and brandished a pellet gun at work.
        One e-mail indicates he was reassigned to a position answering phones and forbidden from interacting with clients or handling medication.
        Jamie Dantis, 29, resigned earlier this month after receiving notice that he faced termination over the gun incident. Two Metropolitan Court judges have issued bench warrants for his arrest for failing to appear in separate criminal cases.
        His criminal record includes assault, fraud and shoplifting charges.
        Dantis' legacy
        John Dantis has been so integral to corrections operations in Bernalillo County for the past 20-plus years that the county's massive Metropolitan Detention Center sits on a road that bears his name.
        He came to Albuquerque in the 1980s and has worked at various times for the city and county as juvenile detention center director, jail director and in his most recent post as the county's public safety boss.
        He implemented the controversial Community Custody Program; brought the old county jail out of a deficit; introduced three other alternative custody programs for inmates; and started upgrading jail operations to gain national accreditation. He also oversaw construction of the MDC, which was plagued by cost overruns and delays.
        De La Cruz said Thursday that he did not know when John Dantis' retirement will begin.
        "I know he has some leave, and that would mean he'll want to exhaust that," the commissioner said. "In light of everything that's happened at MATS, I think everybody understands why he would step down. I appreciate his service; I wish him well."
        As of May 21, 2009, Dantis was making an annual salary of $113,600.

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