State mental health administrator reassigned

Report had detailed relationship with nonprofit

January 24, 2002|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

A state mental health administrator has been reassigned after a news report detailed his relationship with Key Point Health Services, a nonprofit company that treats thousands of people under a state-funded program.

Richard S. Blackwell, a coordinator of special programs in the Mental Health Administration, is no longer involved in overseeing programs in Baltimore County, agency spokeswoman Jean Smith said yesterday. Instead, he will have that role in Anne Arundel County.

The shift in duties occurred this month, after The Sun detailed the relationship between Blackwell and Key Point, which is based in Bel Air but has facilities in Baltimore County. Blackwell served briefly on Key Point's board, but did not list that affiliation in an annual report filed with the state Ethics Commission.

Smith also disclosed yesterday that an internal investigation into Blackwell's relationship with Key Point had been completed, but said the results could not be made public because they involved personnel matters.

Smith declined to say whether the shift in assignments was a result of the investigation.

A transfer "is something we do for various reasons on a routine basis ... if there is any ethics issue raised or even the appearance of a conflict," she said.

Smith said Blackwell would not comment on his reassignment.

In addition to serving on Key Point's board, Blackwell went on a Florida golfing trip with some company board members last January, The Sun reported last year. Blackwell's hotel bill for the four-day outing was billed to Key Point. State officials said Blackwell told them he reimbursed a company official for his share of the costs.

The story about Key Point also disclosed that the company paid golf club membership fees of $6,000 and financed several trips by company executives. Some of those costs were reimbursed by the nonprofit group's chief executive officer.

Key Point has an annual budget of about $12 million, most from state-funded programs.

The disclosure about Blackwell's new assignment occurs as a state legislative committee is set to hold a hearing on a funding crisis for mental health programs. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. today before the House Environmental Matters Committee.

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