In March, 2015, we told you about a sex-filled lawsuit against Terry Maketa, formerly the El Paso County sheriff.
Among other things, the suit accused Maketa and Undersheriff Paula Presley, one of three employees with whom he was said to have had affairs, 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 suit is still pending. But the missing-file issue pops up again in an even more damning document — a grand jury indictment of Maketa, Presley and a third person, ex-commander Juan San Agustin.
The indictment, on view below in its entirety, details multi-count felony and misdemeanor charges against Maketa and Presley (and two felonies naming San Agustin) involving a range of issues, including conspiracy to commit extortion, witness tampering and even second-degree kidnapping.
As we noted in a June 2014 post, 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 2014, Maketa finally surrendered, submitting retirement paperwork — and he left office on December 31.
This action didn't end his troubles, however.
The listed plaintiffs in the 2015 lawsuit are Chief Mitch Lincoln, Commanders Rodney Gehrett and Rob King, Sergeant Rob Stone and Lieutenant Cheryl Peck.
The suit notes that an EEOC complaint 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 continued, "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."
Cardarelle had 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, 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.
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 of 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 indictment's narrative isn't nearly as vivid. The document is heavily redacted and written in bland legalese. But the impact may prove to be even more devastating.
The first two counts against Maketa and Presley involve alleged punitive actions taken against Correctional Healthcare Companies, which contracted to provide services at the El Paso County jail, over a memo outlining "inappropriate comments made to [one staffer] as well as two other CHC employees by an El Paso County Sheriff's Office Commander" who's not named. That and an employee's decision not to run Presley's campaign for sheriff led to a demand that a CHC staffer be removed from her position or else the county would terminate the company's contract. That individual was indeed fired.
Counts three through six, which name Maketa, Presley and (in two instances) San Agustin, revolve around an August 2013 domestic disturbance involving a sheriff's-office employee and his girlfriend, who worked for CHC. She wound up with "a swollen face and bruising on her arm" as a result of punching, pushing and shoving.
The sheriff's-office worker subsequently went to Maketa, with whom he had a "pre-existing relationship," the indictment says, to ask "how he could keep his job as he had been suspended and ultimately terminated following his arrest."
In response, Maketa is accused of contacting the victim and telling her to claim that "she instigated the incident and was the aggressor." She did so in order to help the sheriff's-office employee, who was still her boyfriend at the time.
"At the conclusion of that interview," the indictment states, the woman "was arrested for the crimes of domestic violence, harassment and driving under the influence."
These allegations, coupled with those connected to the Elder file (which dominates counts seven through nine), led to arrest warrants against Maketa, San Agustin and Presley. The latter has already turned herself in, resulting in the booking photo seen above.
Continue to see a KOAA report about the latest developments, followed by the indictment.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.