from the Mille Lacs Messenger
October 16, 2009 12:00 am
Mille Lacs Academy director resigns
Mille Lacs Academy Executive Director Paul Smith was convicted Oct. 15 by an
Oklahoma Federal District Court on charges stemming from his employment with
Marie Detty Youth and Family Services Center, Inc., of Lawton, Okla., from
2001 to 2004. Sentencing is scheduled for late January, 2010.
Six of 10 counts against Smith — those alleging mail fraud — were dropped on
Wednesday by District Court Judge Robin J. Cauthron, according to Smith's
attorney, Mack Martin. On Thursday, a jury convicted Smith on the remaining
counts involving embezzlement of money from an employee pension plan and
making false claims to investigators. The charges were made in federal court
because the money Smith embezzled came from federal grants.
Martin said consideration of an appeal is premature. Smith will have 10 days
after his January sentencing to file an appeal.
David Hutchinson, the CEO of Nexus, the Minnesota nonprofit corporation
which operates Mille Lacs Academy, responded to Smith’s conviction with this
“Paul Smith joined Nexus in 2007 as executive director of Mille Lacs Academy
after a thorough background investigation. At that time, we found that both
the Marie Detty organization and the Oklahoma Health & Human Services
Department had investigated the same transactions on which the conviction is
based, and that both investigations had exonerated Mr. Smith in 2004.
“Paul Smith has always exhibited excellence in his duties as director of
Mille Lacs Academy. When we learned of the Oklahoma indictment, our
position was to let the justice system take its course. However, we want to
assure our referral sources and the public that we maintained vigilant
oversight and supervision of all financial and operational matters at Mille
Lacs Academy since learning of the indictment and that the independent
financial audits performed during Paul’s leadership at Mille Lacs Academy
have shown no irregularities.
As a result of this conviction, Paul submitted his resignation, and Nexus
has accepted it, effective immediately. Patrick Rookey, Vice President
Clinical Operations, will serve as interim director. A search for a
permanent replacement is already underway.”