News 5 Investigates

Feb 24, 2014 12:17 AM by Andy Koen

News 5 Investigates: Missing file scandal at Sheriff's Office

COLORADO SPRINGS - A scandal has erupted over a missing internal affairs file at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for one of the candidates running for sheriff. Fountain Deputy Police Chief Bill Elder was a deputy with Sheriff's Office during the 1980's and 1990's.

Sheriff Terry Maketa gave the News 5 Guardians unprecedented access to their command staff and internal affairs documents to sort out the facts of this case.

Internal Affairs (IA) Cheryl Peck first discovered the file was missing back on April 8.

"I had gone back into our archive room to look for another file that was in that alphabetical section and when I opened up that drawer there was a file folder sticking up."

It was empty. Peck says only she and two subordinates were supposed to have access. But in reality, almost anyone did.

"Anybody of command staff or above would have had access to that archive room because a master key would allow you to have access to that room."

Even lower level deputies can check out master keys in an emergency. The master key opened both the file room and a second entrance to Peck's Internal Affairs office, where the cabinet keys were kept in a desk drawer.

Maketa said he and his command staff thought the IA Office and archive file room were separately keyed because that was the way the building plans were drawn up.

"None of them knew their master would open that room where the files, the archive files were stored, or even into the actual IA area," he said.

In 2010, Elder went to work for the Fountain Police Department. Chief Todd Evans had an investigator pull Elder's personnel and Internal Affairs files from El Paso County as part of a routine background check.

"He states that he went, he was able to review Elder's personnel file and was told that he did not have an IA file," Evans said.

Maketa is certain there was a file because he said he looked through it after hearing that Elder wanted his job.

We asked Maketa if he was being nosy. "No," he said. "I am the sheriff. Now some people act like that means I'm hired by somebody, I am hired by somebody but it's the voters of El Paso County. I don't report to the board, I don't report to the county administrator, I am responsible for the entire office and if I know or can anticipate there's going to be a request coming, I want to know that we have it."

The sheriff released hundreds of pages from an Internal Affairs file on another deputy who worked under Elder in the Metro Vice and Narcotics Unit. That deputy was given a written reprimand for misuse of comp time by following procedures used by the Colorado Springs Police Department. He said Elder was the one who told him to use those procedures.

"We were in a unit that had nine different agencies involved," Elder explained. "We tracked (compensation time) based on a memorandum of understanding and agreements in place for many years long before I got there, that they would all be tracked the same way."

Maketa's staff searched the building and dusted for finger prints. He called the Attorney General and Colorado Bureau of Investigations for help, but neither agency had investigators available to help out.

"Unless somebody confesses, we'll never know what happened to that file," Maketa said.

Elder is running for the Republican Party nomination against former sheriff John Anderson and county public services director Jim Reid. The winner will be chosen at the county assembly of the Republican Party which meets on March 29th.

There is no primary election. Only delegates to the county assembly will get to vote, and those delegates will be chosen at neighborhood caucuses on Tuesday March 4.


UPDATE 2/24/2014

There will be a primary election in June. Candidates who receive more than 30 percent of the vote of the delegates at the county assembly will automatically be placed on the ballot. Those receiving more than 10 percent but less than 30 percent of the vote have the option of petitioning onto the ballot.


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