Mental health official quits after allegations

A mental health executive who managed 15 counties and led his agency through mental health reform and mergers has quit after allegations that his family profited from real estate deals.

Tom McDevitt will step down as CEO of the Smoky Mountain Center on Dec. 31, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported Friday. Some board members weren't satisfied with his answers to questions about business with his wife and daughter.

McDevitt also was head of the nonprofit Evergreen Foundation, which managed, sold and leased properties to mental health agencies. His wife's real estate company did business with Evergreen and his daughter worked for the nonprofit.

McDevitt said he still had support from a majority of the board, but that he needed to leave because some of the new board members didn't support him.

“I underestimated the changes that would take place on the board with these mergers,” McDevitt said. “I don't want to cause division, and I don't want to work with a board where there is division.”

Smoky Mountain manages mental health care services in 15 Western North Carolina counties. McDevitt led the agency for 25 years.

Smoky Mountain board chair Bill Noland said the board will appoint a search committee to find a replacement.

“He's known as one of the best, most innovative leaders in the state,” Noland told the newspaper. “It's too bad.”