By Tim Eberly
The Montana Department of Justice is conducting an investigation into the finances of Havre Day Activities Center Inc., officials said. Gary Nimmick, the center's executive director, is currently not working at the center until the matter is resolved.
Steve Brown, vice president of the center's board of directors, would not comment on whether Nimmick was suspended and would not discuss the focus of the investigation.
"There is an investigation going on down there," Brown said. "It was not initiated by us. The board and the center's staff have cooperated to the extent of the request by the Department of Justice. We've provided records at their request."
Brown said two investigators from the Department of Justice approached him Tuesday, asking for permission to search the financial records of the corporation.
Nimmick hung up his phone when a reporter contacted him at home this morning.
Dale Boespflug, a regional manager with the state Developmental Disabilities Program, confirmed that he is filling in for Nimmick at the request of the board of directors. Boespflug would not say what Nimmick's job status is.
"He's not here and I'm here," said Boespflug, who arrived in Havre today and is uncertain of the length of his stay. "I'm running the day-to-day operations of the facility for the time being."
Founded in the mid-1970s, the Havre Day Activities Center is a private nonprofit corporation with five private group homes housing 41 developmentally disabled adults. The center provides recycling and woodshop activities for the clients. It is fully funded by contracts with the state Developmental Disabilities Program.
Nimmick has been a full-time employee at the center for approximately 28 years, Brown said.
"He is the overall manager of the corporation and carries out the day-to-day business of the corporation," said Brown, a board member for 16 years. "And no, he doesn't have autonomy over all the accounts."
Investigators from the Department of Justice did not return phone calls today.
The way allegations of abuse have been reported by the center to the state has also been the subject of complaints recently, according to Brown.
Brown, who wrote a five-page memo to employees of the center after two grievance hearings in late August, said allegations "weren't substantiated. It wasn't anything serious. They were saying (Nimmick) hadn't reported (complaints of client abuse) properly. They weren't saying he did anything."
In his memo, Brown wrote that "the Board finds that there were no instances of actual abuse which were not investigated and reported to the appropriate authorities by management. The Board also finds that many of the allegations cannot be substantiated due to the direct conflict in testimony...It did appear to the Board that there was not full communication to staff members after an allegation of abuse had been reported."