Adams County plans to sue former employees and contractors who county officials said cost taxpayers nearly $2 million as part of a paving scandal -- a scandal uncovered by CALL7 Investigators."We hope at the end of the lawsuit to recover our $1.8 million that Adams County has been cheated out of," said Adams County Administrator Jim Robinson.The county commissioners also approved another half dozen resolutions that officials said will prevent future scandals, including tightening bidding and contracting procedures, changing the ethics code and establishing an internal auditor and investigator."We've come to realize that certain individuals have come to take advantage of the weaknesses in our systems," said County Commissioner W. R. Fischer. "That stops today."Former Public Works Director Leland Asay and employees Samuel Gomez and Stacey Parkin, along with Quality Paving, its former owner Jerry Rhea, and other Quality Paving employees are the target of the countys lawsuit to recoup the money the county believes it wasted on road paving projects with Quality Paving, according to resolutions passed Wednesday.A series of 7News 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 Asay and Gomez received gifts and work done on their personal property by Quality Paving.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 former owner Jerry Rhea, were also charged in the scandal.
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 7News 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."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."Richard Irvin, attorney for Sam Gomez, said he could not comment because he knew nothing about the county's actions.Attorneys for Asay and Parkin could not immediately be reached for comment.