After months of skirting paternity-test suspicions and financial disclosure charges, Cortez L. Quinn, the embattled Twin Rivers school board trustee and Assemblyman Roger Dicksinson’s former chief of staff, landed in jail Tuesday because of a few crumpled-up paper towels.
On August 20, Quinn took a bathroom break during a Twin Rivers Unified School District meeting in North Highlands. At the time, he might not have paid much attention to the man who followed him in there. That was Daniel Garbutt, an investigator with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the office, Quinn did his business, washed his hands in the sink and left. Garbutt hung back to retrieve the wadded-up paper towels Quinn left in the receptacle. Garbutt delivered the damp trash to his office’s forensics lab, which pulled Quinn’s DNA from the towels. According to lab criminalist Devin Johnson, the results proved Quinn was baby-daddy in a disputed paternity case involving a woman Quinn borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from.
Now the DA’s office has no jurisdiction when it comes to paternity disputes, assistant district attorney Albert C. Locher acknowledged, so why the interest?
It turns out the office had been looking into Quinn’s affairs since about September 2010, when the California Fair Political Practices Commission hit him with a $14,000 administrative penalty for not reporting the money he accepted from Dr. Sherilene Chycoski, the district’s visual and performing arts director and Quinn’s onetime lover.
The FPPC says he’s prohibited from accepting more than $250 from a district employee.
“That’s what originally brought us into investigating this matter,” Locher told SN&R.
Quinn was arrested and released Tuesday. He faces a total of 18 criminal counts, 15 of which are felonies. The lab technician, 36-year-old Andre A. Pearson, was booked into jail around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on felony charges that he prepared false evidence and conspired with Quinn to commit a crime and obstruct justice. He was scheduled for release that same day, according to online jail records.
While arraignment proceedings hadn’t yet taken place for either man, the story of how a private civil matter evolved into a full-blown criminal probe highlight the clogged political arteries that impact Sacramento’s heart.
The charges against Quinn read like excerpts from a scandalous nighttime soap.
According to court documents filed yesterday by the DA’s office, the 46-year-old Quinn failed to report roughly $55,000 in loans and gifts he accepted from Chycoski, a widowed school district employee with whom he was sexually involved.
Quinn allegedly racked up thousands in bank transfers, money orders and cash advances to keep a Vallejo property from falling into foreclosure and to repair his BMW, among other expenses.
Meanwhile, the allegations assert that Quinn collaborated with a lab technician to fudge a court-ordered paternity test after Chycoski gave birth to a son she claims is theirs.
Quinn already owes $10,000 in child support payments to another woman, according to Yolo County court documents cited by the DA.
Since Chycoski became the primary source in the DA’s own investigation, Locher said his office needed to test her credibility. There were circumstances regarding her own affidavit, Locher added, that made it necessary to “[get] to the bottom of this paternity matter.”
In June 2011, Chycoski filed a paternity action against Quinn. After being threatened with court sanctions, Quinn finally acquiesced to a genetic test in April 2012. The results came back negative and the family court judge denied Chycoski’s request for a second test.
But suspicion endured. Chycoski insisted she hadn’t slept with anyone else. During a deposition this past June regarding the thousands Chycoski says she’s owed, “Quinn failed to touch anything during the deposition process that could be used for later DNA analysis,” the declaration states.
Because the fraudulent DNA was submitted as part of a court declaration, Locher said his office was able to investigate. He believes Quinn was aided in submitting a false sample by Pearson, a technician at Comprehensive Medical Inc., which collects genetic samples and sends them for analysis in Nevada.
While the DA’s allegations against Quinn are well enumerated, the case against Pearson is less detailed. Comprehensive Medical president and CEO Sue Ramsden told investigators that Pearson “got lucky because someone did him a favor” when her employee underwent his own paternity test. Ramsden added that she suspected Pearson of past misconduct, but was unable to prove it.
Locher wouldn’t say whether there’s additional evidence against Pearson than what was presented in the criminal complaint. The DNA sample that was sent to Nevada belonged to neither Quinn nor Pearson.
Because there’s a chain of custody process to collecting and filing DNA samples and Pearson’s signature is on the forms, Locher said he’s the one who needs to “provide a reasonable explanation for how that [false sample] could happen.”
Meanwhile, the Twin Rivers school board plans to meet in closed session on Thursday to discuss Quinn’s fate. In a statement, board president Rebecca Sandoval said, “At the end of the day, it’s all about educating kids and keeping them safe.”
Quinn left Dickinson’s staff in 2012.