Dense Fog Advisory issued September 18 at 3:22AM MDT expiring September 18 at 8:00AM MDT in effect for: Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Yuma
The former president of Quality Paving Co. has been charged in a scheme that allegedly bilked Adams County taxpayers out of $1.8 million for work that was never done. County prosecutors have accused Jerry Rhea, 62, of doctoring billing records to drive up the price of county projects after the company's contracts were renewed without being put out to bid. He was arrested Friday but is free on a $10,000 bond. He faces multiple counts of theft over $20,000, conspiracy to commit theft over $20,000 and attempting to influence a public official. A man who answered Rhea's phone Saturday wouldn't take a message asking Rhea if he wanted to comment. Rhea is among six people charged after the district attorney's office began investigating paving and resurfacing contracts between Quality Paving and Adams County Public Works from 2004 through 2007. The DA's investigation was prompted by a CALL7 series of reports about Quality Paving apparently doing work on the public officials homes without pay.In July, 2010, two Public Works employees and three Quality Paving and Resurfacing employees were charged in similar transactions. Sam Gomez, 63, faces charges of theft, forgery, attempting to influence a public official and embezzlement. Gomez was a construction manager in the department. Gomez was arrested after investigators learned that Quality Paving employees had done landscaping and remodeling work at his home and he could not provide receipts proving he paid, according to a CALL7 investigation. Stacey Parkin, 29, faces similar charges. Parkin was a road inspector in the Adams County public works department. Others charged are Dennis Coen, who was the vice president of Quality Paving and its sister firm, Quality Resurfacing Co.; Heath Russo, who worked at Quality Resurfacing in 2006 and 2007; and Louie Schimpf, who worked at Quality Paving. Arrest affidavits allege a pattern of actions on county contracts, from inflating the volume of materials used and double-billing projects to charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for work that was never done. Adams County sheriff's detectives allege the county, in one instance, paid $35,340 to Quality Paving for a slurry seal treatment but the road was never resurfaced, even though Parkin signed off in her daily log that the project was complete. Quality Paving was sold May 13. Its new owners terminated Rhea in late 2010 after the full scope of the investigation became clear, said Gary Lozow, an attorney for the company.Rheas next scheduled court appearance is Feb. 10.