BRIGHTON — No criminal charges will be filed against Adams County Commissioner Alice J. Nichol or her husband, Ron, following the completion of an extensive investigation in alleged wrongdoing, the county announced Monday, Oct. 15.
Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey, appointed as special prosecutor for the investigation, sent a four-page letter dated Oct. 10, 2012, to Adams County D.A. Don Quick that points out myriad issues concerning the county's policies and procedures when the Quality Paving scandal rocked the county's Public Works Department, resulting in about $1.8 million in taxpayer money being bilked.
In the letter to Quick, Storey reported that "criminal activity has been present within the Public Works Department ... and its dealings with Quality Paving/Resurfacing during Alice Nichol's tenure as a Commissioner," and that Nichol "fell well below what most citizens would expect from individuals practicing good government."
Storey's letter pointed out that the investigation "was not tasked with looking into potential governmental ethical violations" and that any opinions on them would be "beyond the scope" of his office's authority as special prosecutor.
While acknowledging corruption in Adams County government, Storey's letter reports his investigation could not find a tie between Alice Nichol and that corruption, saying that the county's bid and contract processes at the time "created sufficient ambiguity and confusion to prevent" further criminal inquiries.
In a county news release, Nichol sounded off on the news.
“Being under a cloud of doubt while I was being investigated for criminal wrongdoing has been extremely difficult for me and my family,” said Commissioner Alice J. Nichol. “However, I am grateful to have contributed to significant changes that have brought county operations up to the standards of good government. I am proud to be a part of the county’s reform efforts.”
Nichol referenced a massive good-government reform initiative launched by the county in May 2011 to centralize purchasing, put in place new procedures and standards for acquiring property and departmental reporting to the county administrator, as well as the hiring of an internal auditor and the launch of a public opinion survey to ask voters about the establishment of a Home Rule Charter Commission and the possible expansion of the Board of Commissioners from three members to five.
“We will continue to revisit, review and revise county policies to make sure they conform to best practices in the public sector,” said Commissioner Nichol. “Adams County is committed to being a transformative organization that demonstrates transparency, accountability and trust.”