In 2008, El Paso County Sheriff's Office comptroller Dorene Cardarelle spent hundreds of taxpayer dollars attending a budget conference in Breckenridge. At the condo the Sheriff's Office had rented, she discovered a trail of notes leading to a doorstep covered in rose petals, according to text messages obtained by The Gazette, and "a gorgeous man behind the door waiting for me."
The man was El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who had also traveled to the conference at the public's expense.
"I hope there are more times of breckenridge," Cardarelle later texted him, saying she wished they were kissing.
"I believe we will have many brecks again in the future," Maketa texted back.
Travel documents released Monday by the Sheriff's Office show Maketa spent thousands of public dollars to travel at least 17 times with female employees with whom he is accused of having affairs. The trips to Las Vegas, Florida, Breckenridge, Washington, D.C., Reno and other locations around the country were to attend law enforcement conferences, but former commanders interviewed by The Gazette suggest Maketa sometimes neglected the official conference schedules to spend time with the women.
Maketa was accused in May of the string of affairs, dismantling oversight of the $60 million office budget and creating a hostile work environment. The El Paso County Commissioners have started an investigation and called for the sheriff to resign. The District Attorney's Office says it is reviewing criminal complaints.
While Maketa has said he was "embarrassed and humbled" by the revelations, he has indicated he will stay in office until his term ends in January. Maketa did not return a call Monday for comment.
"On the face of it, it all looks very official," said former Bureau Chief Joe Breister, who recently retired because of differences with the sheriff. "But there was a lot going on there."
Documents released by the Sheriff's Office under the Colorado Open Records Act show Maketa has traveled with Cardarelle three times since becoming sheriff in 2003, including another trip to Breckenridge.
He also traveled with Undersheriff Paula Presley at least 14 times. The cost of these trips is well over $10,000, according to records.
In 2006, Maketa went to Las Vegas with Presley, Commander Ken Moore and another employee for the Western States Sheriffs Association annual meeting. Moore, who recently retired because of differences with the sheriff, said Maketa and Presley attended very few of the classes.
Presley, who denies having an affair with Maketa, said she only missed one morning class and has never missed any of the other conference offerings on her many trips.
Toward the end of the Las Vegas trip, Moore said, Maketa took him to a room rented by Presley in another hotel, where Maketa had left his cellphone charger.
"The towels were all used, the bed was messed up," Moore said, and the two offered different stories about why they had rented the room.
Presley told The Gazette she had only checked into the room to get a promotional gift and that, "there was no activity of any other kind" that happened in the room.
During a trip in 2007, Maketa went to Virginia to visit Moore at an FBI school but spent most of his time with Cardarelle, who was in the area for a grant-writing course, Shannon said.
Documents suggest Maketa did not travel with dispatcher Tiffany Huntz, another woman with whom he is accused of having an affair, in an official capacity. But Breister, who retired in January, said Huntz went twice with Maketa to Las Vegas while he was on official business. They concealed her travel by using their money for her ticket, he said.
During the most recent trip, in March 2013, Department of Corrections head Tom Clements was murdered in El Paso County. Though commanders say a sheriff would customarily return to head such a high-profile case, records show Maketa stayed in Las Vegas for three more days.
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