September 2010. When Lane Olson returned my call I almost didn’t recognize his voice. He sounded strained and raspy. I told him I heard he was fired about the theft. I asked how he was doing, and what happened? Olson said that he well, and was researching and talking with his lawyer and other community members, while also getting ready to start a new group with Vince Collins, another past staff member (and one of the Letter Writers talked about further in this post) from AFAN. Lane explained to me that on September 8th he was terminated from AFAN for gross misconduct and misappropriation of funds, and that he didn’t do anything that deserved this reason for his termination. Olson felt that it was retaliation by Morss who wanted him gone, and to ruin his reputation in the HIV community.
On the day Olson was fired, he was asked by Cira Jones and Jared Hafen to come to Jennifer Morss office. Olson walked into Morss office and it was Jared Hafen, Cira Jones and Jennifer Morss with Linda Mckay (AFAN’s HR person) was on the phone. The reason Lynda Mckay was on the phone was because she lived in Phoenix and worked for HR Solutions, the same company that AFAN’s Board President Patrica Farley Saavedra, as owner and was paid by AFAN for her companies HR services.
Olson was to sign some papers which would be admitting his guilt to the accusations of misconduct and misappropriate of funds, and was offering a lump sum payment of $3,616 dollars, “Severance” pay upon his agreement for signing to the terms of their Release and Waiver form. Olson was in shock, and while Lyndy McKay was explaining to Olson why he was being fired, he snapped out of the shock and refused to sign anything because he didn’t understand what was going on. Olson didn’t understand why would someone being fired for “Stealing” would be given a severance pay? His point raised a lot a questions for me for as well.
Olson was open about his HIV status, and so when he was terminated for gross misconduct and misappropriate of funds, Jennifer Morss and Patricia Farley – Saavedra knew he would not qualify for his continued coverage called Cobra insurance. This meant he would not receive coverage for his HIV medications and medical care.
Olson explained that Jennifer Morss also submitted a letter to unemployment asking them not to award Olson his rightful compensation. Why would any agency go to such lengths, especially an AIDS organization do this to someone who is living with AIDS, to take away any person’s ability to get their Life saving medications?
So while the three reasons listed on Olson’s termination papers did occur, all of them were directions from upper management and they occurred over a 2 ½ year period and yet Olson never received any sort of reprimand because of the fact that he was not fully responsible for the acts.
Olson explained that two years prior that he and 11 other staffers wrote letters to the Executive Board with concerns about Morss’s unprofessional and unethical behavior. Olson, Hadley and Hafen met with the Board president and vice president and shared their concerns for the Agency and the direction it was going with Jennifer Morss at the helm. Because he was protected under the whistle blower act I’m guessing that this Morss’s way to finally getting rid of him.
I asked if he had any copies of those letters from the rest of the staff, so we met in person and he let view and copy all the letters some with names and many without because of the fear they had of Jennifer Morss. As I read through them and I was in complete shock and disgusted by the claims of a Morss’s behavior. Copies and References from the letters that were submitted regarding Morss’s behavior are listed below.
AFAN Staff letter to Board 1, AFAN Staff letter to Board 2, AFAN Staff letter to Board 3, AFAN Staff letter to Board 4, AFAN Staff letter to Board 5, AFAN Staff letter to Board 6, AFAN Staff letter to Board 7. And later another letter AFAN SEP 2010.
- Mentions of high Staff turn over, with an atmosphere of fear created by Morss and always questioned staff “Are you with AFAN or are you against AFAN” One new staff member was told by a Holly Hoffman the then finance director at AFAN that when “Jenn says jump. We jump!”
- Morss would not allow staff to host going away parties for staff that were being let go or were leaving for other employment. They all would be walked off property because Morss viewed each of them as a “liability.”
- Morss had divulged to the rest staff that Holly Hoffman the Finance Director who didn’t show up to work was “mentally ill” and that this employee had other “family members suffered from this same mental health issues.”
- Morss was angered when a staff member contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The staffer had spoken to Morss previously about a mold problem in the building, even showed her pictures. But Morss did nothing about the mold problem, until OSHA put pressure on her to do test to make sure there was no “Black mold” in any of the offices. Morss never had any concern for the HIV+ staff or the clients they served who have compromised immune systems who came in for services.
- Morss had place a “Secret Nanny Spy Cam Alarm Clock” in the executives office area. A staff had noticed the product was billed on the companies credit card statement along with a sum of $1,800 unaccounted for.
- Morss was upset or mad with another AIDS Organization like Golden Rainbow and other local AIDS service organization which provides clients with emergency financial assistance.…all because Morss had a personal beef with Eric Flaming the previous Executive Director of Golden Rainbow. Morss would tell the Programs & Operations Director Fabian Mera to not allow the case managers refer clients to these agencies. It seems Morss didn’t care if clients were evicted from their residence or even go without electricity during the hottest summer days. Why would she do that HIV+ people who she was supposed to be working for?
- That Morss had begun belittling a receptionist named Liliana Vasques after Vasques became pregnant through a process called Vitro, the same process that Jennifer Morss herself was going through. Morss had found out that this second attempt to get pregnant did not work. When Morss heard Vasques was pregnant and with twins, Morss was more than upset, she was furious at Vasques making all kinds of racial slurs and comments to other Staffers. Morss’s mistreatment toward Vasques was witness by many of the staff during her pregnancy, some of the abuse came in email or could be heard down the hallway behind closed doors, with Morss screaming and yelling at Vasques in private meetings. This treatment was done repeatedly over the course of 8 months, Morss even made Vaques carry heavy boxes, take out the Office trash to the dumpster during Vaques high risk pregnancy with twins. Morss had repeatedly pressured Vasques to resign until finally Morss fired her just a couple weeks before Vasques gave birth to her twins. Leaving Vasques in medical debt after denying her Cobra insurance coverage.
- Another AFAN staff member named Chris Medina (letter writer) who was fired a few months after the employee letters were sent to the Board of Trustee’s, shortly after AFAN conducted a Audit due to all the allegations against Jennifer Morss AFAN’s Executive Director. Patricia Farley Saavedra over saw the audit and produce all the documents for the Auditors to examine. That sounds incredibly suspicious. Of course the end result was Morss got to keep her position as Executive Director and the Board had Morss fire Fabian Mera the Associate Director at the time. Well Chris Medina won his case and got a large settlement against Jennifer Morss and AFAN for his wrongful termination.
So after Chris Medina won his lawsuit a couple of AFAN’s board members had left. Morss even kicked off one of the Board of Trustee’s, Assemblyman David Parks. David Parks was never notified about the changes in the by-laws and was kicked of the AFAN Board of trustees, seems crazy… well Mr. Parks was not a fan of Morss (he had voted to remove her as Executive Director) after the staff’s letter writing and “$20,000 audit” due to the employees letters.
And when the Board President Jack Kim left, guess who was placed as Board President? It was Morss good friend Patricia Farley Saavedra, with her Human Resources consult company who worked for AFAN. Something I though was very odd. I asked Olson how did Patricia Farley Saavedra get involved at AFAN? He said that Patricia Farley Saavedra had met Jennifer Morss at their kids school and became friends, and soon after Patricia Farley was hired as the HR Company for AFAN and placed on AFAN’s Board of Trustees.
Then shortly after Olson was fired on September 8th, it was found that there was a real theft committed by Jared Hafen the Associate Director under Jennifer Morss the Executive Director. But what was with the Official AFAN letter with a statement about a theft committed by “two employees who were terminated?”
What’s been confirmed by AFAN staffer members (many of which left AFAN) was that about a week after Olson’s termination an auditor found client paperwork that wasn’t signed. Cira Jones (Finance Director) had it taken to the Case manager Erika Franco, thinking that Franco had forgotten to sign off on it. When it was presented to Franco, she did a double take and said she didn’t know who this client was, that she didn’t do this paperwork and that she couldn’t sign off on this paperwork. When the discovery of the “fake clients” money was going to assist clients that didn’t exist but had files on record prompted an investigation. And it was discovered that the fake client’s assistance was really paying Jared Hafen’s (Associate Director at AFAN) bills with AFAN’s checks.
By September 17th more information came out about the theft that was reported in the news perpetrated by AFAN’s Associate Director Jared Hafen, who worked right under Jennifer Morss. The Associate Director admitted to having stolen gift cards and using funds to pay for personal expenses. There was no mention of Lane Olson being involved.
AFAN Board President Patricia Farley Saavedra was interviewed by Channel News 3 September 17th 2010, and the same document I saw at AFAN’s offices was displayed again showing that “Employees were terminated.” Patricia Farley Saavedra still intended to affiliate Olson with the real theft by Jared Hafen, which discredited Olson among the HIV community. Who would listen to Oslon story about what really happen behind the doors of AFAN if the whole community thought he was a thief? Other clients I knew who weren’t regulars to AFAN’s social programs believed that Olson was the either a part of or orchestrated the theft. If Morss and Saavedra had planned to ruin Olson’s reputation it was working.
Talking with Olson I found out that Jared had visited him a couple months after this all transpired and wanted to apologize to Olson. Hafen told Olson that he was sorry for all the trouble and didn’t know why he did what he did…that it was stressful working for Morss and he wanted to move to Seattle or Portland, but Morss had threatened him, he didn’t go into detail, but had said that Jennifer Morss and Fabian Mera taught him how to make “fake clients.” If what Hafen said was true, wouldn’t it be easy to conclude that Morss and Mera may have been doing the same thing? And since the Warrent/Summons for Hafen wasn’t issued until December 20th 2010, it gave Morss and Farley-Saavedra 3 months to possible work out a deal with Hafen to lessen the charges if he didn’t squeal on Morss.
I wanted to so something to help Olson and change the problems I saw at AFAN, but I had no idea what to do. I remembered that a Client at the Hung in Vegas event mentioned starting a petition, so I got a hold of him. He had already created a letter to the Board and had almost 140 signatures from other clients and volunteers who were vocal about their outrage over Olson’s termination, including the lack of assistance from the Agency itself. We met up to talk more. I read the petition and added my name.
During his next visit to AFAN the Cleint said he was pulled aside by a staffer Andrew Evanski who Morss had sent to relay a message to him, which was for the Client to stop asking people to read his petition, and to stop collecting signatures. The Client had no idea how Morss even knew we was collecting signatures for a petition.
I kept in touch with Olson. By September 27th 2010 he retained Richard Segerblom a Lawyer. The lawyer sent a letter to AFAN Executive Director Jennifer Morss, which Richard Segerblom points out Morss’s blatant unethical and immoral behavior regarding Olson’s termination.
“in hopes that AFAN will change its position in light of the facts”
That the accusation by an employer of gross misconduct and misappropriation of funds is a serious issue that when an “employee has engaged in such conduct” they “must be terminated” “immediately” and yet AFAN “fails to take such action..”
That it had been “known for months of the alleged improprieties” , “The failure to act belies the assertion”
“its a blatant contradiction to assert that an employee was fired for gross misconduct and misappropriation of funds and at the same time offer them $3,616.oo in wages”
“underlying Mr. Olson’s termination” in an attempt to link him to “the misdeeds of Jared Hafen” when “…there is no such link”
“Finally, if it were not so tragic I would find it ironic that a non-profit agency founded to alleviate the pain and suffering experience by HIV-positive individuals would falsify the reasons for one of its own employee’s termination so that you could deny that employee health insurance. What the hell were you thinking?“
Lane Olson had done so much for other clients and the Las Vegas community. Yet Morss had done something so heinous to Olson and the members of the board, lead by AFAN’s Board President allowed it all to happen. Why? What was Morss thinking? What was the board thinking? Why would the Board President back up unethical acts that Morss was committing? What kind of people are they?
I couldn’t believe what was happening to Olson. After everything I had read, I believed he wasn’t guilty of these allegations. That in reality Patricia Farley Saavedra used these separate incidences just to have a reason to fire him because he was one of the many staff members who wrote letters that got Morss investigated for her unprofessional and unethical behavior. And then to make matters worse Morss and Saavedra then plotted to connected Olson to the real theft that occurred at AFAN by Jared Hafen. Supposedly Hafen was not the only one involved, but was used as a fall guy to stop any further investigation into the mater of “fake clients” at AFAN. All this was done just so that community members would not believe Olson about what was really happening behind the doors of AFAN. I was just blown away at how crazy things were at AFAN behind the scenes, that this was the kind of organization I was completely dependent on for my own HIV medications and care. Not to mention the thousands of other HIV positive clients in Southern Nevada.