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Local News

Hope for Prisoners’ founder Ponder dismissed from lawsuit against non-profit

Hope for Prisoners founder Jon Ponder (Credit: HFP/Nevada Current)

Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
April 16, 2024

The former chief operating officer of Hope for Prisoners, a non-profit reentry program for former inmates, can proceed with his wrongful termination suit against the organization but not against its founder and chief executive officer, Jon Ponder. 

The Current reported Monday that the organization’s former COO Grant McCandless was terminated in 2020, after an internal investigation into a complaint of racism cleared him of wrongdoing. McCandless says he was told by HFP’s board chairman at the time, Todd Fasulo, that Ponder wanted him out.  

Clark County District Judge Gloria Sturman ruled Tuesday that Ponder acted in his official capacity, has corporate protections, and dismissed him from the suit. 

“Hope for Prisoners would have this court believe the board, not Mr. Ponder fired me, and did so without any discussion of the investigation they paid for,” McCandless told Sturman. “This is disingenuous.”  

McCandless says HFP has refused to produce documents related to the investigation.

“They refuse to produce even the minutes from the board meetings. When they say they have produced all requested documents… they’re not being truthful with this court,” McCandless asserted. 

He says he was told via email by Dylan Houston, the attorney for Ponder and HFP, that the organization agreed to provide board communications for September and October 2020 that mentioned McCandless by name, but noted Houston failed to do so. 

Houston is the son of Joe Houston, the attorney who shot and killed attorney Dennis Prince and his wife, Ashley last week during a deposition, before killing himself. The elder Houston was representing his son, Dylan, in a custody battle with Prince’s wife. Dylan Houston’s employer, Resnick and Louis, no longer lists the attorney on its website. 

A discovery commissioner is scheduled to decide next week whether McCandless is entitled to the documents he seeks.

McCandless told the court he intends to ask former HFP official Rodney Taylor to testify about his allegations that Ponder discriminated against him. Taylor, in a letter to the board, alleged Ponder displayed favoritism to female clients, employees, and mentors with whom he behaved  inappropriately. Ponder did not respond to requests for comment. 

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.