• Employee claims Pierce County Medical Examiner fabricated evidence

    By: Kevin McCarty

    Updated:

    TACOMA, Wash. - An Associate Pierce County Medical Examiner claims her boss, Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark fabricated evidence in an effort to get her suspended from her position after she filed a whistleblower complaint against him.

    Asked after the suspension was made public in a press release March 1 if she felt the suspension was retaliatory, Quin replied, “I do. I hate to say that.”

    Quinn's attorney claims evidence used to support that suspension was fabricated by Clark and Amy Heller, a Pierce County human resources employee. On Friday, the attorney sent a demand to the county executive calling for Clark’s termination.

    “Dr. Clark is not fit to be Pierce County’s Medical Examiner,” said attorney Joan Mell. “He’s dishonest and he fabricates evidence.”

    In her claim, Mell cited an email exchange between Clark and Quinn regarding her taking contract work to conduct death investigations in other nearby counties, something Quinn stated she understood would be allowed when she was hired. Mell said statements from that email exchange were then cut and pasted into notes taken by the employee during a tense exchange between Clark and Quinn five days later. Numerous statements from the Jan. 17 email appear in handwritten, then transcribed notes taken during a Jan. 22nd meeting, even though Quinn claims the conversations didn’t happen during the meeting.

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    For example, on Jan. 17 Clark wrote to Quinn in the email, “Outside employment has to be squeaky clean” and “You would have to take a vacation day.” Then in notes from the Jan. 22nd meeting, Clark also claims to have said the same thing, word for word. Another line from the email repeated verbatim in the notes was, “the potential for a conflict of interest”.

    In some cases entire passages from the Jan. 17 email are represented as having come up during the Jan. 22 meeting. But Quinn claims the items from the email weren't discussed during the meeting. Mell said making it appear the conversation took place two days before she went public with her whistleblower complaint instead of five days earlier became the pretense for allegations of insubordination and ethics violations that the county named in a press release announcing her suspension.

    “The documentation we finally received doesn’t support their press release,” said Mell.

    Mell’s claims were sent to the Pierce County Executive’s Office and Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney. KIRO 7 contacted both offices and a spokeswoman for the county Executive declined comment while the case is under investigation. The Prosecutor’s office did not respond. A private attorney for Clark also did not respond to a request for comment.

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