- Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
The Colorado Secretary of State's Office investigation into the notarization of hundreds of deputy affidavits without deputies signing them in the presence of a notary has concluded with calls for sanctions against two notary publics who say they were ordered to violate state notary laws. The superior they accuse of ordering them to break the law, meanwhile, faces no consequences.
Rick Dietz and Dave Mejia should lose their commissions as notaries for the remainder of their terms, the Secretary of State's Office investigation recommended. Dietz's commission is to end Aug. 24, 2020. Mejia's commission expired in March 2017. A third notary, Cathryn Richards, has moved out of state, so the Secretary of State's Office has no jurisdiction over her but called for suspending her commission had it not expired, a spokesperson told the Indy.
According to the investigative report, in Dietz's case, "The notary stated that he brought it to [his superiors'] attention that he did not witness the signatures and therefore should not notarize [them] but they insisted. Furthermore, he stated that he was coerced into falsely notarizing the documents in fear of losing his job if he did not get it done."
Dietz, and a witness who observed the incident, told the Indy that Sheriff Bill Elder's Administrator Larry Borland ordered him and Mejia to notarize roughly 800 deputy oaths more than a year after deputies signed the documents when it was discovered a former worker hadn't notarized them earlier (Cover, Nov. 8, 2017).
The Secretary of State's investigation looked at 11 notaries, most of whom worked for other agencies and notarized oaths for officers who were deputized. Eight cases were recommended for dismissal.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation probe, which was reopened when the Indy pointed out that investigators hadn't bothered to contact a key witness, made a final conclusion that there was not enough evidence that Dietz and Mejia were intimidated by Borland, who denied making the order.