Judge: Chance Meeting Between DA And Suspects Is Not A Conflict
4:26 AM, Sep 15, 2011
Adams County District Attorney Don Quick told a judge 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 judge on Thursday determined that the brief meeting created no conflict for Quick whose office is prosecuting the case.The initial 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 in August.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 in August. He also said Coen believed Quick's visit at the particular moment was "happenstance."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 during a phone conversation with 7NEWS in August. 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.The questions of conflict were raised during a motions hearing in the case against Quality Paving scheduling manager Louie George Schimpf in August. Schimpf 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 at the August hearing -- 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 in the phone conversation.