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Gazette Premium Content Watch: Maketa sends video apology to employees of El Paso County Sheriff's Office

By Matt Steiner Updated: June 3, 2014 at 6:46 am

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa on Saturday sent a video to Sheriff's Office employees in which he admits that he "engaged in inappropriate behavior in the past" and apologizes.

The sheriff also reiterated that he does not intend to step down.

"I come before you embarrassed and humbled of the events of last week," Maketa said in the video, referring to demands for his resignation after Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints by Sheriff's Office commanders and a deputy alleged sexual impropriety, discrimination, budget improprieties and a hostile work environment.

The Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday that he made the video Saturday "so all employees could hear from him." The video was distributed to employees via the Sheriff's Office's internal site Saturday afternoon and all employees were notified, the statement said.

The accusations led county commissioners to launch an investigation and then cast a unanimous vote of no confidence at Thursday's board meeting. Commissioners also asked that Maketa resign immediately.

The sheriff in a written statement earlier in the week said he intends to complete his third term, which the county Clerk & Recorder's Office said ends Jan. 13, 2015. Maketa reinforced his intention to remain as sheriff in the video, saying, "That is what I intend to do."

The commissioners cannot force Maketa from office as he is an elected official and can be removed only through a recall election. Ryan Parsell, a spokesman for the Clerk & Recorder's Office, said 44,000 petition signatures would be needed by July 12 to prompt a recall election.

Maketa told his employees in the video that he will continue to "work with you and the new sheriff to make that transition as seamless and painless as possible."

The commissioners said Monday afternoon that they were not aware of Maketa's video. Amy Lathen, the District 2 representative, said the Board of Commissioners would contact the Sheriff's Office to obtain a copy.

The Gazette obtained its copy of the video from a source at the Sheriff's Office who asked to remain anonymous. The source used a cell phone to shoot a video of the video.

A sheriff's deputy, who asked to remain anonymous out of a fear of being fired, responded to the video.

"In the video he (Maketa) says he was humbled by the events of last week. If he were truly humbled, he would resign," the deputy said. "He is not humble, he is still arrogant.

"Deputies are offended that he has the gall to stay in office."

In his video, Maketa apologized for his inappropriate behavior and for "not being forthright."

"Since he has admitted to departing from the truth, what's his punishment going to be?" the deputy said. "He has recently fired an academy recruit for departing from the truth. He places commanders on administrative leave for alleged policy violations. But he can still stay in office after admitting he violated policy by departing from the truth."

The issues surrounding the sheriff fell into the public spotlight after a May 23 story in The Gazette that detailed the first EEOC complaint and included an example from more than 500 emails and text messages between Maketa and Dorene Cardarelle, the Sheriff's Office comptroller, and Tiffany Huntz, the head of training for dispatchers.

The complaint said the women and Undersheriff Paula Presley received preferential treatment because they were having sexual relationships with Maketa.

Maketa and the three women have denied the allegations.

More accusations have piled up against Maketa since the first reports broke. Cliff Porter, a patrol deputy, also filed an employment complaint. Porter said the sheriff created a work environment in which women were regarded as "sexual playthings." He alleged women were given promotions for sexual favors.

Also, two former Sheriff's Office employees filed notices to sue in March alleging "a pattern of harassment and emotional abuse" by the sheriff. Emory Gerhart and Charles Kull told The Gazette earlier this year that they resigned after repeated interrogation about a missing internal affairs file on Bill Elder, a candidate for sheriff. Gerhart and Kull's attorney Shimone Kohn said Monday that his clients are "alleging $750,000 in damages" each.

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Statement from El Paso County Sheriff's Office

"Sheriff Maketa spent much of the day Friday making personal visits and speaking with employees of all levels at both the Office of the Sheriff and CJC campuses.  He ended the day by attending the Recruit Academy BBQ which is an event the recruits enjoy when their academy class is coming to its conclusion. Like he had done throughout the day with other staff, Sheriff Maketa spoke with the recruits and their family members who were in attendance about recent events. Feeling time was of the essence and recognizing it’s impossible to address the workforce all at once due to varying shifts and responsibilities, Sheriff Maketa came into the office Saturday to have the video done so all employees could hear from him. The video was placed on the Sheriff’s Office internal site Saturday afternoon and employees were notified it was posted for their viewing."

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Gazette reporter Dave Philipps contributed to this story.

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