PIERRE, S.D. — A Sioux Falls nonprofit leader has entered a plea agreement in federal court admitting she made "materially false statements" while being interviewed by federal authorities who were investigating administrative discrepancies at a Chamberlain-based women's domestic violence shelter she led until her resignation in 2019.
Tami Haug-Davis, who had previously steered Sioux Falls nonprofits from the YWCA to the regional Girl Scouts affiliate, has signed a plea deal in the U.S. District Court of South Dakota agreeing to pay $15,000 in restitution to federal grant programs that funded the Missouri Valley Crisis Center during her time as the nonprofit's director.
As part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, who recommend probation instead of jail time, Haug-Davis also admits she lied to investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Health & Human Services, who were looking into criminal allegations over the center's nonprofit board and other filings.
The agreement still needs to be approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy.
In court filings signed by Dennis R. Holmes, Acting U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, prosecutors lay out a case that, beginning in the fall of 2018, agents from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety Victim Services Program, following an investigation of MVCC, issued a "corrective action plan" with "17 items" needing documentation, including "detailed board meeting minutes from the last three meetings" and a list of MVCC's board of directors.
When Haug-Davis replied with a request for more information, South Dakota investigators issued a criminal complaint and drew in federal authorities.
Attorneys say during a "joint investigation" between inspectors general for DOJ and HHS, including interviews in August of 2019 and July 2020, Haug-Davis "knowingly and intentionally made materially false statements" about the shelter's board meeting minutes and other documents provided to state investigators.
"Defendant knew her statements were untrue when she made the statements to investigators," reads a statement filed with the U.S. District Court of South Dakota on Monday, April 26, signed by both Haug-Davis and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Jehangiri.
Prosecutors did not respond to a request for information on the case.
The resource center's current executive director, April LeBeau, acknowledged to Forum News Service in an interview on Tuesday, April 27, that Haug-Davis formerly headed up the nonprofit, which provides myriad services, particularly to women and children, fleeing domestic abuse.
"We've come a long way in the last two years," said LeBeau, noting that since Haug-Davis "abruptly resigned," the center has gained what she called "trust" again in the community, serving roughly 300 people during 2020 alone.
It's not immediately apparent how much the nonprofit, which was established in 1994, took in in federal and state grants during Haug-Davis's short tenure. LeBeau, who was only hired months before Haug-Davis left, said the former director was hired on an interim basis in 2016 and ran the program from Sioux Falls, while the board eventually "fizzled."
Most of the funding for the nonprofit is secured through state and federal grants, said court documents. A DSS spokesperson was not able to provide any figure on grants to the crisis center by deadline.
According to media reports, Haug-Davis previously served as executive director for Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons, which oversees scouting programs in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa, and she is currently director and counselor with KeySolutions, an employee-based mental health counseling program in Sioux Falls.