HARRISBURG – A former Sunbury police corporal found guilty in 2018 of criminal conspiracy to tamper with evidence has lost an appeal.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania last week affirmed the conviction of Jamie Quinn, who was accused of lending her police department-issued cellphone to her teenage son, who received two sexually explicit photographs of his minor girlfriend, which he promptly deleted.
Quinn, who was terminated from the department after 22 years of service, was sentenced to 24 months of intermediate punishment following a two-day trial in Northumberland County Court of Common Pleas. She filed a post-sentence motion, which was denied.
On appeal to Superior Court, Quinn questioned in a brief whether there was sufficient evidence presented at trial supporting the conviction and if the guilty verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence.
The case was reviewed by Superior Court Judges Alice Dubow and Carolyn Nichols, and Senior Judge James Colins, who dissented. The memorandum opinion was written by Dubow.
According to the memorandum, Quinn permitted her son to use the cellphone for approximately 45 days. While using his mother’s phone, on Nov. 28, 2016, he received the photographs. The next day, Quinn received a text from her son, who stated that his girlfriend sent the photograph of herself to another boy and the boy forwarded it to other people.
Quinn counseled her son, through text messages, on the law and encouraged him and his girlfriend to report the incident to police and his girlfriend’s parents.
The memorandum states Quinn then realized the photographs may have been on her work phone and texted, “Oh God! That picture was never on that phone; was it? Either way, make sure you don’t have a copy of it, and never admit to anyone else that you have actually seen it.”
On Dec. 1, 2016, state Trooper Nathan Messner was dispatched to the school to investigate an incident involving the transmission of sexually explicit images by minors.
The investigation involved seven juveniles, including Quinn’s son and his girlfriend. Messner contacted Quinn by phone and asked for permission to speak with her son and look through his cellphone. She agreed, but informed the trooper that her son was in possession of her department-issued phone and she would be in trouble, if it was seized. Initially, Messner did not seize the phone.
Immediately after that conversation, Quinn sent her son a series of text messages, which included telling him to “go through anything that may be incriminating,” not to admit the pictures were on the phone and to “delete” her messages.
She texted, “Anyway, you just tell them that they need to look at it to be sure that the picture was never on that phone. Seriously, delete most of these texts that we just sent.”
After Quinn contacted her supervisor about the situation, then-Police Chief Timothy Miller contacted Quinn to return to the station with the phone, which was subsequently turned over to state police, who performed a forensic analysis on it.
During the trial that commenced on Oct. 27, 2018, the court granted Quinn’s motion to dismiss charges of tampering with evidence and theft of services. At the conclusion, the jury convicted Quinn of the criminal conspiracy charge and acquitted her of theft by unlawful taking.
Dubow stated in the memorandum that to sustain a criminal conspiracy charge the commonwealth must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant entered into an agreement to commit or aid in an unlawful act with another, adding that a conspiracy exists from a variety of circumstances, including the relationship between parties, and knowledge and participation in a crime.
Quinn argued that the commonwealth provided insufficient evidence that she and her son had specific intent to impair the investigation and that she conspired to delete the photographs.
She also contended that the deleted texts were not relevant to the underlying sexting charges.
Dubow and Nichols agreed with the trial court’s opinion that there was evidence in the form of text messages and live testimony that showed Quinn advised her son to delete images and text messages that she knew to be the subject of a crime, which “resulted in a potential hindering of a criminal investigation.”
“The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that (Quinn) was aware that a police investigation relating to the dissemination of images of her son’s girlfriend was ongoing and involved her police department-issued cellphone,” Dubow wrote in the memorandum. “Nonetheless, at this time, she entered into an agreement with her son, through text messages, to remove their correspondence related to the investigation from the cellphone in question – and her son complied.”
In her appeal, Quinn also challenged the weight of evidence presented at trial. Her argument, the Superior Court noted, was “woefully underdeveloped.”
Dubow stated that Quinn “has cited only to boilerplate authority” and that the argument contained in her brief simply requests the court’s attention to the recitation of evidence.
The judge added that Quinn’s failure to develop her claim has hampered the panel’s ability to conduct a “meaningful” review.