Terry Maketa spent his last months as El Paso County sheriff embroiled in controversy of a very seamy sort.
As we noted in a post last June, Maketa was targeted with allegations about improper relations with several women on his staff, not to mention promotions based on sexual favors. El Paso's county commissioners responded by unanimously passing a vote of no confidence in Maketa — but he defiantly refused to resign, putting out a video in which he mixed apologies with statements about his intention to serve out his term.
In December, Maketa finally surrendered, submitting retirement paperwork — and he left office on December 31.
This action didn't end his troubles, however.
Now, several former staffers have filed a lawsuit against Maketa and Undersheriff Paula Presley, one of the employees with whom he's said to have had an affair; see it below.
Among other things, the document accuses the pair of practicing sexual favoritism and running a smear campaign against the plaintiffs over an internal affairs file said to have been missing, even though it was actually in Presley's possession the whole time.
The listed plaintiffs are Chief Mitch Lincoln, Commanders Rodney Gehrett and Rob King, Sergeant Rob Stone and Lieutenant Cheryl Peck.
The lawsuit notes that an EEOC complaint, also shared here, charged that Maketa and Presley "had engaged in a sexual relationship with each other that was discriminatory and caused a hostile work environment in the sheriff’s office."
In addition, the complaint continues, "allegations made against Maketa in the request for investigation and EEOC charge were that Maketa was engaged in sexual relationships with Tiffany Huntz and Dorene Cardarelle, both El Paso County Sheriff Office employees, and that such conduct was discriminatory and caused a hostile work environment in the sheriff’s office."
Official photos of Tiffany Huntz, Paula Presley and Dorene Cardarelle.
El Paso County via the Colorado Springs Gazette
Cardarelle has served as comptroller, while Huntz was hired to be the head of training for dispatchers.
Huntz also had a reputation for sharing provocative images of herself online.
She's said to have posted under her own name, as well as via a pseudonym, Jessica Jordyn.
Here's one pic shared by the Colorado Springs Independent back in 2010, around the time the paper first dug into allegations of impropriety against Maketa.
When Maketa entered his final term as sheriff, the lawsuit contends, he tried to arrange a soft landing for himself and those with whom he'd had affairs. Here's an excerpt:
Beginning in 2013, Maketa and Presley, jointly and individually, determined to influence the political race for and election of the successor sheriff of El Paso County. Maketa determined to peddle the influence of his endorsement for county sheriff to a candidate in the upcoming Republican Party nominating commission/caucus. In exchange for a commitment from a candidate (1) to offer Maketa a consulting contract with the Sheriff’s office and (2) to offer a sinecure in the sheriff’s office to his three sexual partners, Maketa would endorse the candidate for Sheriff.
One of the people who ran for sheriff was Bill Elder, a previous member of the department who, the suit says, was not friendly with Maketa and wouldn't go for such a deal.
For that reason, the suit contends that Maketa and Presley "devised a plan to discredit Elder as a candidate for sheriff that involved supposedly adverse and negative information about Elder contained in an Internal Affairs (IA) file concerning Elder's conduct while he had previously been in a sheriff's officer."
Peck later discovered the Elder file was missing, and an investigation was launched to determine its whereabouts. As such, the plaintiffs were subjected to interrogations and even polygraph tests about the file, which the suit says was in the possession of Maketa and Presley and kept at her home.
A screen capture from the 2014 video in which Maketa apologized for his actions but refused to resign.
El Paso County Sheriff's Office
When Stone suggested that Presley actually had the file, the complaint quotes her as exploding in vitriol about him, saying, “I’m going to kill that fucker! He better not come up on this floor to my office! I don’t want him in my office! That fucker!”
Other allegations: Three hours after King, Lincoln and Gherett submitted a letter to the board of commissioners "requesting an investigation of sheriff Maketa and undersheriff Presley for a hostile work environment, threats, a sexual discriminatory workplace, improper procurement and budget practices that were inconsistent with county policies, and retaliation for political views and civil rights violations," they were placed on administrative leave and escorted out the building by Presley.
There's an unmistakably personal undertone to the lawsuit, with the actions of Maketa and Presley twice described as "evil." Here's a particularly telling passage:
It was well known to plaintiffs that Maketa and Presley were...subject to fits of unreasoned anger and routinely threatened sheriff’s office personnel with being fired for no good reason and in fact fired personnel for no good reason. It was known to the plaintiffs that Maketa took particular, expressed, delight in seeing employees suffer emotionally as to whether they would keep their employment once saying, “I don’t care that its Christmas. I don’t give a fuck about his family” concerning an individual he was considering firing.
The suit's demand for damages goes beyond Maketa and Presley to include the El Paso County Commission, because the defendants' actions took place in their official capacity, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
Look below to see the complete lawsuit, followed by the EEOC complaint.
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