By Ross Markman
The state of Montana has charged the former executive director of the Havre Day Activity Center with five counts of theft, all felonies.
According to court documents, Gary Nimmick is charged with stealing more than $1,000 worth of property from his former employer; depositing a $3,200 refund check, intended for the activity center, into his personal account; stealing more than $1,000 in travel expenses and utility services money from the activity center; using $1,750 of activity center money to buy a trailer in his name; and pilfering more than $1,000 in travel money from the activity center.
Each charge could bring Nimmick a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
Nimmick was an employee of the nonprofit corporation for about 28 years. The Havre Day Activity Center operates five private group homes housing more than 40 developmentally disabled adults. It's fully funded by contracts with the state Developmental Disabilities Program.
Hill County Attorney David Rice said Nimmick still lives in Havre. Nimmick did not return phone calls today.
Steve Brown, vice president of the center's board of directors, would not comment on the charges, but said Nimmick was temporarily suspended when the investigation began in October and was terminated soon after.
According to court documents, Nimmick was terminated on Oct. 18, 2001.
"We can't make any comment. That's ongoing litigation," Brown said today. "We don't want to do anything that would prejudice Gary's rights. About half the board has been listed as witnesses."
The investigation was conducted by Shane Shaw with the state Department of Justice. Shaw was unavailable for comment today.
According to the criminal complaint filed in state District Court, Nimmick installed a snow plow purchased by the activity center on his 1983 Chevrolet pickup. Nimmick used the vehicle to remove snow from center properties and records indicate that he billed the center $1,640 for that in June 2000. He was also paid $3,275 a year earlier, court documents said. The checks were made out to Big Sky Vending, a company operated by Nimmick. Since 1997, the documents said, the activity center has paid for the gas in the pickup and repairs to it totaling $2,290.
In addition, court documents said, Nimmick submitted a March 2001 claim to the center for plowing in the amount of $6,220. Court documents said he was paid for that claim by a center check and was also paid his usual salary during the days he claimed to be plowing.
Upon investigation, Shaw found that very little snow fell in Havre that winter and only a trace of precipitation fell on some of the days Nimmick said he plowed, documents said.
Court documents indicated that Nimmick, in September 2000, bought a $3,200 Bobcat tractor from Kamp Implement in Belgrade using a Havre Day Activity Center credit card. The tractor, according to documents, never appeared in center records.
Court documents also said that Nimmick took the tractor for repairs to Montana State University-Northern, and after learning that it was beyond repair, returned it to Kamp. Nimmick, documents said, received a check made out to himself for $3,200. He is accused of depositing the check into his own bank account on Aug. 8, 2001.
Court documents said Nimmick told Shaw he just forgot to pay the center. On Oct. 17, 2001, documents said, he gave the personal check and invoice for the tractor to the center's bookkeeper. This was one day after Shaw began to question Nimmick about his alleged mishandling of center funds, the court documents said.
In August 2000, according to court documents, Nimmick, who owns Highland Park Laundromat, bought some washers and dryers in Bozeman. He submitted a claim to the activity center for $915.95 in travel expenses for two different trips.
Nimmick then sold some of the machines to the center, but put others into the center's assisted-living facility on Seventh Street, documents said. When he installed the machines in the facility, no one with the center knew that he owned them, documents said.
The machines had coin-operated controls and those living in the home paid $2,000 to use them from the time they were installed until Nimmick's suspension.
When the families of the people living the facility complained, documents said, Nimmick said the company had to charge for the use of the machines because they were set that way. Nimmick, documents said, "reasoned that the clients would have to take their laundry to a laundromat and pay for it anyway, so he didn't think it was too much to ask to pay for their use at a facility."
Records at the activity center, according to court documents, show an invoice from July 21, 1998, for two trailers totaling $2,800. The invoice didn't indicate the year of either trailer.
A center check was issued on July 31, 1998, to Nimmick for the invoice, documents said. Records from Helena Trailer Sales show that Nimmick, on July 30, 1998, bought a 1998 DCT trailer in his own name for $1,750 and a 1980 Owen trailer in the center's name for $1,000.
The activity center has no record of the DCT trailer, but according to court documents, Montana motor vehicle records show that a 1993 DCT trailer was transferred to the center from the Highland Park Laundromat on Sept. 21, 1998.
On Feb. 12 of 2002, Nimmick told Shaw that he traded the center his old trailer for the new one because he wore his out hauling for the center. He admitted that he bought the 1993 DCT trailer for $1,600 in 1993 and made the trade in September 1998, the court documents said.
No one with the center knew of the trade until Shaw's investigation last fall, the documents said.
"The defendant essentially traded a 5-year-old trailer for a new one without making any payment to the company," documents said.
Court documents also allege that until March 2001, Nimmick used his own vehicle to travel to Helena and other meeting sites of the Montana Association of Independent Disability Services. The company reimbursed him for gas, mileage, and any repairs to the vehicle, documents say.
According to records, from Jan. 1, 1998, to March 31, 2001, the center paid him $11,107 for mileage and $2,665 for maintenance of his 1996 Chevrolet pickup.
Shaw, documents said, examined Nimmick's travel vouchers along with records of various meetings Nimmick claimed to have attended.
According to court documents, Elmer Venne, an auditor with the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, audited Nimmick's travel claims from June 30, 1998, to June 30, 2001. Documents said Venne determined that Nimmick had claimed travel and lodging for meetings that were never held, or for meetings that he was only listed as attending a portion of.
Venne concluded that Nimmick claimed more than $17,500 of nonexistent expenses, the court documents said. The center is being required by the state to pay the money back.
Shaw found a total of $6,071 for 23 trips between July 1, 2000, and July 1, 2001, that were not documented or not related to center business. Venne's totals include Shaw's.
When questioned by Shaw about the claims discrepancy, documents said Nimmick could not give names of others who could support his claims.
"He asserted that he was always on company business, wherever he went in Montana, and claimed the expenses as legitimate," documents said.
According to Rice, Dale Boespflug, a regional manager with the state Developmental Disabilities Program, has been filling in for Nimmick as acting director of the center.