Thursday, December 7, 2017

UPDATE: Ex-officer says he witnessed order to notarize deputy oaths

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 4:19 PM

click to enlarge Borland: Denies giving an order to notarize signatures without witnessing them. - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Borland: Denies giving an order to notarize signatures without witnessing them.
UPDATE:
CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina tells the Independent via email, After discussing your request with my team, it would not be appropriate for the CBI to make any comment at this time



—ORIGINAL POST 4:19 P.M. FRIDAY, DEC. 7, 2017—

A retired sheriff's officer says he witnessed El Paso County Sheriff's Administrator Larry Borland order two employees to notarize deputy oaths in violation of the state's notary laws.

The officer didn't want to be named for fear of retaliation against his friends still working for the department. For the purposes of this article, we'll refer to him as "Lt. Doe."

Lt. Doe said he worked on the same floor with notaries Rick Dietz and David Mejia and happened to be in their office on that spring day of 2016.

Lt. Doe's account substantiates Dietz's story that Borland ordered him and Mejia to notarize hundreds of deputy oaths of office, despite them not witnessing the signatures, most of which had been made more than a year before Borland's order.

The Indy reported the notary issue in a cover story published Nov. 8, 2017. We recapped the issue after Sheriff Bill Elder called a news conference in an attempt to discredit the report.

From the cover story:
Colorado law requires notary publics to witness the signature of a person signing a document, which is the whole point of a notary attesting to a signature and affixing their notary seal to a document. The law also requires every notary to keep a journal of each notarial act.

But most of the 1,016 affidavits in question — signed by the officers and Elder in 2015 (sheriff's officers must sign a new document with the entrance of a new sheriff) — were notarized in April 2016 without the notaries witnessing the signatures, according to Richard Dietz, a 13-year employee of the Sheriff's Office who left his county job in June 2017. Though he and another notary resisted orders to falsify the documents, Administrator Larry Borland ordered them to do so anyway, as quickly as possible, and notify Chief of Staff Janet Huffor when they were completed and ready to be filed with the Clerk and Recorder's Office, he says.

"It was just stamp, sign, stamp, sign, stamp, sign," he says in an interview. "It was complete BS."

Dietz also says neither he nor Dave Mejia, another notary in the department who notarized the documents, entered those notarial acts in a journal as required by law. Noting he and Mejia "were directed to get them done ASAP," Dietz says, "The journals were not utilized for the oaths in question as they required signatures by the signer being notarized."
Elder and Borland refused an interview prior to publication of our Nov. 8 cover story, but at the news conference that same day, Elder said there was nothing wrong with the process used, and Borland denied having ordered the notaries to notarize the documents.

Elder said at that time that Mejia and Dietz "took it upon themselves to notarize the documents" all at once in April 2016. "Nobody has ordered anybody to do anything," he said.

Borland said on Nov. 8: "I have never ordered anyone to notarize anything. I certainly have never ordered anyone to notarize something they didn’t witness. I would not do that. I did not do that. That did not happen."

Now, Lt. Doe tells the Indy in a phone interview what he observed first hand.

"Larry Borland came down one morning," he said. "He looked at Rick Dietz and said, 'Where are all the oath affidavits?' Rick said, 'Over there in those boxes.' Borland said, 'How many are there?' Rick said, 'hundreds.' Borland said, 'I want you to notarize them and use the dates on them and I'll send someone down to take them to county [Clerk and Recorder's Office].

"Rick Dietz was looking at Mejia," Lt. Doe said. "Then he looked at me and said, 'I think that’s against the law.'"

Lt. Doe said he told Dietz he wasn't familiar with notary law but that Borland's directive sounded like an order. He said he told Dietz, "It sounds like you better get that done."

"I took it as an order, and I wasn’t even involved in it," he says. "He ordered them, that was an order, to notarize them and use the dates on there and he’d send someone to take them to county. I witnessed that."

Asked about this newly surfaced account, Borland said in a phone call to the Indy: "Never in my career have I ever ordered anyone to notarize something they did not witness. I did not do that. I would not do that. If I gave a directive to somebody that they didn't think was right, that they didn't understand, it was upon them to ask me, but I assure you, I never told anybody to notarize something they did not witness. That is my comment."

He then hung up.

The Independent has received a tip that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating the notary issue. The CBI cannot confirm or deny an investigation, though a spokesperson said she'd be willing to tell the Independent if the CBI had been asked to investigate. We will update when and if we hear back. The Sheriff's Office did not respond to a request for comment on a possible investigation.

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