GILPIN COUNTY - Longtime El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa was booked into and bonded out of the Gilpin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday.
Another former commander in the department, Juan San Agustin, 46, also was booked into and bonded out of the Teller County Jail Thursday morning. San Agustin was indicted on two felony counts – second-degree kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Arrest warrants were issued for Maketa as well as Agustin Wednesday, and their bail was set at $10,000 for each of them. Each was also charged with three counts of official misconduct, a misdemeanor.
Maketa and his former undersheriff Paula Presley ran the department through threats, intimidation and deceit, according to a damning nine-count grand jury indictment issued Wednesday.
Maketa and Presley threatened to yank a multi-million dollar contract from a company if it didn’t get rid of an employee they didn’t like, coerced a domestic violence victim into changing her story and then threw her in jail, and improperly smeared the reputations of current and former deputies who crossed them, according to the indictment which charged each of them with six felonies and three misdemeanors.
The shocking allegations came about 17 months after Maketa left office embroiled in controversy. He resigned Dec. 31, 2014, two weeks before what should have been the end of his third term, amid allegations that he had carried on affairs with multiple subordinates and tried to smear the man who ultimately was elected to succeed him, Bill Elder.
Maketa, 51, and Presley, 52, each face the same felony charges: extortion; conspiracy to commit extortion; tampering with a witness or victim; conspiracy to commit tampering with a witness or victim; second-degree kidnapping; and false imprisonment.
Presley had turned herself in after the indictment was issued – posting bond at the Pueblo County Jail, according to Jacqueline Kirby, spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
For Maketa, it was the latest turn in controversy that clouded the end of what had been – until his final year – a popular run as sheriff. He had originally joined the department in 1987, then been elected sheriff in 2002.
When he ran for a second term in 2006, he had no opponent in the general election. When he was challenged in his bid for a third term, he grabbed 81 percent of the vote.
But then, in his last year in office, three commanders filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that he gave preferential treatment to women in the department with whom he was having affairs. Those commanders also notified the El Paso County Commissioners, alleging that Maketa was having sexual relationships with Presley and two other high-ranking female subordinates.
More complaints followed, El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton called on Maketa to resign, and the entire board unanimously approved a “no confidence” resolution.
But Maketa refused calls that he resign before ultimately putting in his retirement papers and left the department on Dec. 31, 2014 – two weeks before his successor, Bill Elder, was scheduled to take office.
Maketa has been the subject of ongoing investigations since then.
The extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion counts are based on allegations that Maketa and Presley pressured the owner a private company that provided medical care at the El Paso County Jail to remove one of his workers. That came after the woman alleged that a sheriff’s office commander made inappropriate comments to her.
According to the indictment, the woman worked for Correctional Healthcare Companies, which at the time held a $5.2 million contract to provide medical services at the jail. On Sept. 11, 2013, the woman wrote a memo detailing the incident with the commander, and the next day Maketa called her “to express his anger with her over the memo” and his problems he had with one of her colleagues, according to the indictment.
A few weeks later, Maketa and Presley met with the company’s owner and the woman’s direct supervisor, threatening to pull the CHC’s contract with the sheriff’s office if they didn’t remove the woman from her position with the company.
“Both Sheriff Maketa and Undersheriff Presley did so with voices raised in a hostile and threatening manner, adamant that their demand be met,” the indictment said.
Maketa had other problems with the woman, according to the indictment. At the time, Pressley was considering a bid to run for sheriff, and the woman declined to run her campaign.
On Oct. 11, 2013, the woman was placed on leave at the company. The next month, she was fired, according to the indictment.
The charges of tampering with a witness or victim, conspiracy to commit tampering with a witness or victim, kidnapping and false imprisonment all stem from an incident of alleged domestic violence that occurred Aug. 12, 2013, and involved a sheriff’s deputy and his girlfriend, who was a civilian employee of CHC and working at the jail.
According to the indictment, the deputy was arrested the following day.
The investigation revealed that he “punched, pushed and shoved” the woman, and that at one point the attack caused her to “see stars,” according to the indictment.
A domestic violence conviction would have meant the end of the deputy’s career, and he sought Maketa’s help to hang onto his job, according to the indictment. Maketa, the indictment said, called the woman and told her she needed to submit to another interview and change her story, saying she instigated the incident.
A few minutes later, according to the indictment, Presley called the woman, told her to come to the sheriff’s office the next day and “to tell investigators that she instigated the incident and was the aggressor” and that she was “coerced” when she made her earlier statement. Presley assured the woman she would not be arrested, according to the indictment.
“Undersheriff Presley warned her not to tell anyone about their conversation,” the indictment said.
The woman did what Presley told her to do – recanting her story. Then she was arrested on harassment and drunken driving charges and spent more than 24 hours in jail.
It is not clear from the heavily redacted indictment how San Agustin is alleged to have figured into the incident.
The counts of official misconduct surround several other issues.
One has to do with an internal affairs file involving Elder, who ultimately succeeded Maketa as sheriff. In the spring of 2013, however, Maketa didn’t want Elder to get the job, and he suggested that Elder and his supporters were behind the disappearance of the file. That file had dated back to Elder’s stint with the department in the 1990s. For his part, Elder contended Maketa was attacking him to block his path to the office.
According to the indictment, Maketa and Presley subjected known supporters of Elder’s to a type of lie-detector test known as computerized voice stress analysis in an effort to find out who took the file – when in reality it was at Presley’s home the entire time. Two officers later resigned, and one was demoted after he quit and Presley attempted to have the other terminated “in absentia following his resignation,” according to the indictment.
They are also alleged to have improperly impugned the credibility of several sheriff’s officers by putting them on the so-called “Brady” list. All District Attorneys keep a list of law officers who have been shown to be untruthful or have credibility problems – and those names have to be disclosed to defense attorneys in any case one of those officers is involved in. In this case, according to the indictment, officers were put on the list without justification – some for simply angering Presley.
Finally, Maketa berated and demoted an officer who had organized a meeting to discuss whether deputies should form a union.
George Brauchler, the district attorney for Arapahoe and Douglas counties, was named a special prosecutor in the case, and his office handled the investigation and the presentation of evidence to the grand jury.
Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-871-1862.
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