Adams Co. DA Explains Meeting With Paving Scandal Suspects

Judge May Need To Recuse Himself From Case

Adams County District Attorney Don Quick told his office that he was at the home of County Commissioner Alice Nichol at the same time as Quality Paving owner, Jerry Rhea, but said he was unaware of any questionable activity that might have taken place during his short visit.

The information that Quick was inside Nichol's home along with Rhea came from a three-hour taped interview between investigators and former Quality Paving Vice President Dennis Coen, said defense attorney Todd Calvert.

Coen is charged with dozens of felony counts of forgery, theft and bribery.

During the taped interview, Coen explained that he and Rhea were at Nichol's home to give her $10,000 and that Quick showed up to drop off raffle tickets, said Calvert who also said, Coen believed Quick's visit at the particular moment was "happenstance."

On Friday afternoon, Quick told the CALL7 Investigators he did drop by Nichol's home sometime in the weeks around Christmas 2007 and was invited inside.

"Jerry Rhea was at the table," said Quick. He further explained that when the Quality Paving investigation was launched in late 2008 he informed Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr and sheriff's investigators of the chance encounter.

No written record of that discussion was made.

"I should have made sure that was done," explained Quick, who also said he had notified U.S. Attorney John Walsh several years ago.

In 2008, Rhea was under investigation by Quick's office related to the bribery scandal first exposed by the CALL7 Investigators. The investigation has lead to a series of indictments against Adams County officials and workers at Quality Paving, including Rhea.

In 2011, commissioner Nichol's name came into the investigation and to avoid any appearance of a conflict Quick's office asked that the investigation of Nichol be turned over to a special prosecutor -- Jefferson County DA Scott Storey.

Friday's hearing was initially set to hear motions in the case against Quality Paving scheduling manager Louie George Schimpf who is accused of 34 counts of theft and forgery related to the scandal.

Schimpf's attorney asked the court if Quick -- who was not in attendance -- would withdraw from the prosecution as a result of the new information.

"I've invested thousands of hours and I'd like to see [this case] through to the end," Quick told 7NEWS. He explained he would talk with prosecutors in his office over the weekend to determine his role in the future of the case.

Judge May Need To Recuse Himself

"This is something that was dumped in my lap a couple of minutes ago," said Adams County Judge Chris Melonakis, who explained that he personally knows one of the material witnesses in the case.

Melonakis vacated Friday's hearing and said he needs to confer with the chief judge to determine if a visiting judge will need to come in and take over.

"Let me think through whether I have to recuse myself from all aspects of the case," said Melonakis. "The integrity of the proceeding needs to remain untainted."

Friday's hearing was rescheduled for Aug. 26.

CALL7 Investigation Sparks Inquiry

A series of CALL7 reports in 2008 showed that Henderson-based Quality Paving and sister company Quality Resurfacing received $12 million in sole source contracts and another $4 million in contracts where the company was not the low bidder. The reports also raised questions about whether former Public Works Director Leland Asay and employee Samuel Gomez received gifts and work done on their personal property by Quality Paving.

Asay, Gomez and another Adams County employee, Stacey Parkin, along with Quality Paving, are targets of the county’s lawsuit to recoup the money the county believes it wasted on road paving projects with Quality Paving, according to resolutions passed in May, 2011.

Gomez and Parkin have been charged with theft, forgery, embezzlement of public property and attempting to influence a public servant, court records show. Asay has not been charged but lost his job shortly after 7NEWS revelations about the no-bid contracts. Four Quality Paving employees, including Rhea, were also charged in the scandal.

Adams County Administrator Jim Robinson said Asay is responsible for the no-bid contracts even if he hasn't been charged.

"There's a different burden of proof than in a criminal manner," he said. "We believe we have sufficient information and good faith belief that Mr. Asay was involved in the scandal with Quality Paving."

County officials believe Quality Paving billed the county for $1.8 million of work never completed, Robinson said.

Rhea sold the company last year, but Robinson said the county is suing the new owners.

"They purchased the liability, would be our belief," Robinson said. "We hope at the end of the lawsuit to recover our $1.8 million that Adams County has been cheated out of."

Robinson conceded it took a long time after the CALL7 stories to institute all the reforms, but he believes the new resolutions will prevent future scandal in Adams County.

"There's no doubt about that that original story is what got us looking at the whole situation and certainly got law enforcement looking at the whole situation," he said. "As a result of that story in 2008, Adams County is changing the way it does business."

In May, Rhea's attorney, Anthony Leffert, said Quality Paving and Resurfacing did all the work that county contracts required and there is no evidence of payoffs to get contracts.

"All the work done by Quality Paving was approved by county commissioners," he said. "There's another side of the story. All work approved and paid for has been done as far as we know."

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