The Nevada Independent

Your state. Your news. Your voice.

The Nevada Independent

Former chief medical officer resigned over 'bullying behavior,' investigation found allegations unsupported

Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels
Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Criminal JusticeGovernment
Death penalty chamber

Former Nevada Chief Medical Officer John DiMuro, who resigned just as questions arose about his proposed novel drug cocktail for the scheduled execution of Scott Dozier, left the position over what he claimed was “demeaning communication” and “bullying behavior” by a newly appointed administrator — though state officials declared the allegations to be unsubstantiated.

DiMuro, in a resignation letter dated Oct. 30 and obtained by The Nevada Independent, accused newly appointed Division of Public and Behavioral Health administrator Amy Roukie of creating a “hostile work place.” The letter, which had previously been withheld while the Department of Health and Human Services’ Equal Employment Opportunity unit investigated the personnel claims within, was released this week after state officials said they completed their probe.

“The demeaning communication, censure and bullying behavior exhibited by the newly appointed Division Administrator Amy Roukie has created a hostile work place which is no longer conducive to a positive and productive work environment,” DiMuro wrote. “Despite several attempts over the past few weeks requesting assistance in mediating my concerns regarding Mrs. Roukie’s behavior, I have received no support.”

Reached by phone Friday night, DiMuro said he didn't have immediate comment on the state's conclusion and news that the investigation had wrapped up.

An email from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s general counsel, Kathryn Reynolds, indicated that “no substantiated allegations” of a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were found after the governor’s office received the letter.

“DHHS continues to conduct staff interviews to identify opportunities for agency improvements due to Dr. DiMuro’s expressed dissatisfaction with supervision and the management style of the Administrator,” Reynolds wrote in an email to The Nevada Independent.

Asked for comment from Roukie on the claims in the letter, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public and Behavioral Health, which she leads, provided a statement.

“The State of Nevada and DHHS takes any claims regarding hostile work environment extremely seriously. To that end, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) will do its own root cause analysis to ensure that communication and workplace conditions for employees and the public are clear and to ascertain opportunities for improvement.”

DiMuro’s resignation took many by surprise in October, when a lawyer for the attorney general’s office announced that the physician had left his position during a court hearing related to the execution of Dozier, who has voluntarily given up appeals after being sentenced to death for a 2002 murder. The chief medical officer is the state’s main consultant in lethal injection protocols.

An affidavit submitted by DiMuro to the court swore that the resignation did not have to do with Dozier.

The physician’s proposed three-drug cocktail, consisting of the opioid fentanyl, the drug known by the brand name Valium and the paralytic cisatracurium, has been criticized by groups opposing the scheduled execution as being untested and unprecedented.  

In what appears to be his only interview since resigning, DiMuro told The Associated Press he would have used a heart-stopping drug used by other states but pharmaceutical companies’ objections prevented those methods.

“We couldn’t get the drugs. We had to work around being unable to obtain other drugs,” DiMuro said. “There’s nothing in that protocol that we developed and that we were going to implement that would be inhumane.”

Dozier was scheduled to be executed on Nov. 14, but Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti put an indefinite hold on the execution after ordering that the proposed paralytic in the drug cocktail not be used.

DiMuro was appointed to the position of Chief Medical Officer last July, lasting roughly 15 months on the job before resigning. He collected more than $124,000 in total pay and benefits in 2016, according to Dr. Leon Ravin was named acting chief medical officer of the state on Oct. 31, the day after DiMuro resigned.

In an interview with a trade publication shortly after being hired with the state, DiMuro said he was looking forward to using his dual specialties in anesthesiology and pain medicine to help redefine “guidelines and creating usable mandates for prescribing opioids.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my work at the Department and am proud of our many accomplishments during my tenure including the creation and implementation of AB474,” he said in his resignation letter, referring to a bill that sought to curb opioid overprescribing.

DiMuro Resignation by Riley Snyder on Scribd


Featured Videos

7455 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy Suite 220 Las Vegas, NV 89113
Privacy PolicyRSSContactNewslettersSupport our Work
The Nevada Independent is a project of: Nevada News Bureau, Inc. | Federal Tax ID 27-3192716