About that missing IA file ...


  • Valerie Everett
Remember all the hubbub over the missing internal affairs file on Bill Elder at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office

Well, it's triggered two notices of claim against Sheriff Terry Maketa and his undersheriff, Paula Presley, by the two officers Maketa publicly accused of taking the file.

Emory Gerhart and Charles Kull filed the notices — the first step in a lawsuit — on March 6 and May 19, respectively, and both are seeking $750,000. Both Gerhart and Kull allege "a continuing pattern of harassment and emotional abuse" by Maketa and Presley due to their (Gerhart and Kull's) support of Elder and their support of creating a protective association for sheriff's office sworn and civilian employees.

Gerhart states in his claim that the two used "trumped up" internal affairs investigations as a "tool to intimidate and bully" him. He says that five times in a three-month period in late 2013, he was urgently called on his day off to come to Maketa's office within 30 minutes, though it takes him 45 minutes to get there from home. Each time, he was left waiting, sometimes up to two hours. He finally resigned.

Then the retaliation really heated up, he asserts. "On at least two occasions, when speaking to the press, Maketa implicated Claimant Gerhart in the theft of an internal affairs file. This was a meritless and baseless accusation for which Maketa had not a shred of evidence," Gerhart's notice states.

In January when Gerhart applied for a police officer job in Fountain (where Elder serves as deputy chief),  "Maketa personally called the City Manager and told him not to hire Claimant Gerhart," saying he had stolen and IA file.

Kull, with the Sheriff's Office for 13 years, had an unblemished record until he supported Elder and also tried to form a protective association, his claim says.

Kull states it wasn't only Maketa who was down on his case. Commander [Robert] King and a lieutenant "chastised" him "for actions he had taken within the scope and spirit of his supervisory role as a sergeant."
King submitted an EEOC complaint against Maketa on May 22 alleging a hostile work environment, among other things, and also signed a letter delivered to county commissioners May 12 outlining allegations against Maketa that involve sexual relationships with subordinates.

(That letter triggered an investigation of the Sheriff's Office that's now under way.)

The notice alleges that Presley dressed Kull down for associating "with people who are against the current regime" and for supporting for formation of a protective association.

When the IA file was said to be missing, Kull was questioned using a voice stress polygraph, "which he passed," his notice says. Despite that, he continued to be targeted in the investigation by Maketa and Presley, the notice says.

"Kull made the decision at that time that he simply could not remain at the department under the continuing harassment and emotional abuse and handed in his written resignation," the notice says.

Again, Maketa allegedly contacted the Fountain city manager "and indicated Kull should not be hired because he was a suspect in a criminal investigation." The sheriff also implicated Kull in statements to the press without "a shred of evidence."

"To the contrary," the notice concludes, "it appears more likely that Maketa knew that [Elder's IA] file never existed and lied to the press for political advantage."

By all reports, the County-Commission-ordered investigation of Maketa's office will cover a lot of bases, including sex discrimination, retaliation and unfair work practices. 

Oh, and by the way, Kull and Gerhart's attorney is Shimon Kohn and Rick Levinson, the latter of whom won a $9.4 million settlement with Colorado Springs School District 11 and the city in a molestation case involving police officer Josh Carrier, who was convicted of numerous crimes in connection with his activities as a school resource officer.

Maketa's office issued this statement:
As you know, there is pending litigation and there are ongoing investigations involving El Paso County, the Sheriff's Office and individual deputies.

Sheriff Terry Maketa will not be commenting on the litigation, the allegations or the investigations. Sheriff Maketa is committed to a fair and impartial investigation based on facts and law and asks all responsible parties to respect the legal process.

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