As former Sheriff Terry Maketa faces a June 8 court appearance on criminal charges, he'll be represented by one of the most well-known criminal defense attorneys in Colorado.
Pamela Mackey, who represented basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on sexual assault charges that ultimately were dismissed, also served as the attorney for local developer Ray Marshall. Marshall was indicted in 2009 on 33 fraud-related counts but was acquitted at trial.
Maketa also is being represented by David Kaplan, who represented former Mesa County sheriff's investigator and ex-state Rep. Steve King in a case that led to probation in a plea bargain on charges of embezzlement and official misconduct.
So a conviction isn't guaranteed for Maketa. Allegations of inappropriate relationships with staff and lack of department oversight didn't hinder his 2010 bid for a third term.
His campaign manager was Wendy Habert, who appears as one of Maketa's bullying victims in an indictment alleging multiple crimes. Maketa ordered the jail medical contractor to fire Habert in retaliation for her filing a complaint of "inappropriate comments" made to her by a sheriff's commander, and for refusing to run Undersheriff Paula Presley's later-aborted sheriff campaign, the indictment says.
That 11-page indictment, released May 25, the same day the grand jury foreperson signed off on it, provides a peek into the dark world surrounding Maketa's last four years in office. (He resigned Dec. 31, 2014, two weeks before his term expired.)
Although Maketa came under scrutiny for favoritism in 2010, all the charges against him, Presley and former Commander Juan San Agustin are based on events from April 2013 to late 2014.
Maketa and Presley are charged with extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, tampering with a witness or victim, conspiracy to commit tampering with a witness or victim, kidnapping, false imprisonment — all felonies — and three counts of misdemeanor official misconduct. San Agustin is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.
All three surrendered to sheriff's offices in other counties and bonded out on $10,000 each.
Possible sentence for conviction on the most serious — extortion, tampering with a witness and kidnapping — is two to six years and a $2,000 to $500,000 fine.
The charges stem from these incidents, according to the affidavit:
• The Habert firing in November 2013 (Habert was paid $55,000 in October 2015 by the county on a claim of wrongful termination and now works for Sheriff Bill Elder);
• The September 2013 arrest of Kellie Trull, who had accused deputy Travis Garretson of domestic violence but herself was jailed after Maketa, Presley and San Agustin allegedly pressured her to change her story so the deputy, who had been terminated, could be rehired.
• Efforts in December 2014 to place the names of sheriff's personnel on the district attorney's Brady list, which contains names of officers with honesty issues in their past. The staffers had been accused of disagreeing with Maketa on the Waldo Canyon Fire after-action report; not being truthful about a missing personnel file belonging to Elder, elected sheriff in November 2014; and pushing unionization.
The brouhaha over Elder's supposedly missing personnel file was first reported by the Independent ("Something missing?" Jan. 29, 2014).
Presley and San Agustin will appear in court June 9. The 18th Judicial District DA's Office is handling the case "to avoid any conflict of interest," a 4th Judicial District DA's spokesperson says.
Nearly $4 million in civil claims are pending against the county stemming from Maketa's alleged misdeeds. Settled cases have cost taxpayers at least $328,000 in payments and several hundred thousand in investigation costs.