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Sheriff's office mystery account raises questions

Sheriff's office mystery account raises questions

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - A million dollar account from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office went unnoticed by the county treasurer's office for years and wasn't included in the county's financial statements.

An inside source told KRDO NewsChannel 13 about the account.  El Paso County Treasurer Bob Balink confirmed to KRDO that the treasurer's office was surprised to find the account last June because it wasn't created through the treasurer's office.  Because of that, information about the account wasn't provided to auditors, which is against Colorado law.  The source said the FBI and CBI are now investigating.

"The idea of going through a central place, like an office like ours, is that at the end of the year, we can turn over to the auditors, for the public's good, all the accounts that we know of," Balink said.  "If someone sets up an account and we don't know about it, it's not included in the county's financial statements at the end of the year."

Balink said he confronted Sheriff Terry Maketa about the account last year.

"I had a conversation with the sheriff and he was a little upset we were asking about the account," Balink said.  "And we said, 'We're just doing our job. We need to know about all accounts.'"

A spokesperson with the sheriff's office told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that the account was created in 2006 under full authority from the former treasurer, Sandra Damron.  But according to Balink and email exchanges between the county budget office and treasurer's office, even if Damron knew about the account, it was not created through the treasurer's office.

In the email exchange provided by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Nicola Sapp, the county's budget officer tells Judy Hardwicke, El Paso County Deputy Treasurer about the account:

"The County Administrator and myself met with Sheriff Maketa and his Comptroller, Dorene Cardarelle, we asked if the civil account was originally set-up through the Treasurer's Office since it did not appear on our Treasurer Report.  Sheriff Maketa confirmed the former Treasurer Sandra Damron assisted his staff in setting up the civil account in 2006 and thus the Treasurer's Office should have full knowledge of the account. As a final request, I asked the Sheriff's Office simply to confirm with the Treasurer's Office."

This is the latest development in the scandal surrounding Maketa.  Maketa is accused of creating a hostile work environment, having inappropriate relationships with three female employees, including comptroller Dorene Cardarelle, and misusing taxpayer money.  In May, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously asked Maketa to resign, but he has maintained that he won't.  An effort to recall Maketa was dropped.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 spoke to Damron, who was shocked to learn the sheriff's office said she created the account.  We will have more on what she says about the account Wednesday night on KRDO NewsChannel 13 at 10 p.m.

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