Board Chairman Bob Dickinson, chief executive officer of Carnival Cruise Lines, helped negotiate Simpson's departure amid what he called "a staff revolt" over Simpson and his leadership style.
"It was either him or a significant portion of the people who work at Camillus - it had gotten that bad, " Dickinson said. "Until then, board members had never even seen his contract, and frankly we were flabbergasted."
Dickinson said that one striking provision gave Simpson a two-year severance package that included benefits worth at least $460,000 should Camillus "for any reason" terminate Simpson's five-year contract.
Dickinson said the spate of internal allegations prompted him to begin an inquiry in which the financial allegations surfaced, but "we had no details, no proof, and Dale was telling us he had reimbursed for everything. "He had become toxic to the organization."
When asked why a nonprofit charity that solicits public donations would agree to keep the terms of Simpson's departure secret, Dickinson said, "Camillus saved hundreds of thousands of dollars" and avoided a potential legal battle over the severance provision.
Neither Simpson nor board members would discuss the specifics of the agreement, but sources familiar with it said it cut the severance deal by 75 percent to about $115,000.
Simpson said he agreed to the secret deal "not because of their threats, but because of my desire to finish this ugly chapter. It would have taken months, perhaps years, to fight these allegations in court."
Dickinson said it was always the board's intention to investigate more thoroughly and to attempt to document the financial allegations, first made to the board on Feb. 10.
But that investigation had not yet started when The Herald began to request Camillus House records on March 16, Dickinson said.
Now, the board is moving to improve oversight, to hire an outside accountant to document Simpson's expenditures, and to tighten its bookkeeping. The Herald reviewed internal records, conducted dozens of interviews, and examined two years of credit-card receipts on three Camillus House accounts.
Among the findings:
* Camillus Maintenance Supervisor Gabe Roqueta and his crew used Camillus' credit cards to purchase $4,447.97 in materials they say were for renovations at two Simpson homes in Miami between Jan. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2003.
"He would either call me and tell me he wanted something done, or he would go around me and call the guys directly, " Roqueta said. "He can't argue he didn't know all this work was going on. He told us to do it."
NO SALES TAX
On the receipts, employees clearly marked the charges for "Dale, " "DS" or "D." Most of the purchases were exempt from sales tax because they were made on the charity's card. By law, the sales-tax exemption is supposed to be for charity purposes only.
According to records provided by the charity and Simpson, he wrote reimbursement checks to Camillus totaling $2,310 during the same two-year period.
"I wrote checks for everying presented to me to pay, " Simpson said. "Why would I pay only half of my bills? There is no substance to these allegations, and they know it."
Simpson declined several Herald requests to discuss the specific unreconciled expenditures. But his attorney, Richard D. Marx, replying to The Herald in writing, said, "No bills were ever put together by Camillus House and sent to Dale, which were not paid."