Sheriff’s Office Provides Facts Concerning Alleged Mystery Account

July 23, 2014

On July 22, 2014, a story aired on a local media outlet which claimed the Sheriff’s Office had a million dollar account which went unnoticed by the County Treasurer’s Office for a period of years.  Based on the angle of the story, an air of suspicion and underhandedness was cast over the Sheriff’s Office and Civil account.

The first Sheriff’s Office Civil Division has had a bank account dating back at least to the early 1990’s.  The first accounts were set up by El Paso County, as determined by the associated Employer Identification Number (EIN) which was verified by the IRS.  The bank used has not always remained the same, as banks offer better rates for various services at different times.  The purpose of the Civil account was to record all financial transactions done by the Civil Unit with regard to collection and reimbursement of fees for civil process (evictions, restraining orders etc).  In 1995, the Civil Division began banking with Bank One which was eventually bought out by Chase Bank.  In 2006, the account was closed and a new one reopened, still with Chase Bank.  Upon closing of the original account with Chase, a check was written to the Treasurer’s Office for the entire balance, roughly $32,000.  The closing of the first and immediate opening of the second was due to troubles reconciling the first account as a result of issues with the antiquated Civil software used at that time.  Although Sheriff Maketa directed his staff to work with then County Treasurer, Sandra Damron when the new account was opened in 2006, he believes they may have worked with County Finance instead; however, through his own conversations, the Sheriff is aware Ms. Damron had knowledge of the account.   

Beginning in 1995 and continuing through present day, the Treasurer’s Office receives a monthly check from the account.  The checks they receive clearly indicate it is from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division.  Although the checks are not provided here, they are available for review upon request.  In 2011, it was learned the Civil software was not calculating the correct amounts to be sent to the Treasurer’s Office each month, which had caused the account balance to rise.  Knowing the money needed to be transferred out, two checks were written to the Treasurer’s Office in 2011, one for $100,000 and one for $400,000, while additional research began on how to fix the problem. 

Late in 2012, computation errors were noticed again.  Large checks were again written to the Treasurer’s Office to bring the account balance down in 2012, 2013 and a “clean-up” check written in 2014; the account now runs a balance of approximately $50,000 and the software program has been changed and the previous problems no longer exist. 

BoCC meeting minutes and associated Resolutions from April 16, 2013 and March 18, 2014 clearly show items initiated by the Sheriff’s Office for recognition and reallocation of Civil Division funds.

Relevant audio and documentation from the BoCC meetings can be viewed from the following links:

April 16, 2013 BoCC audio: http://bit.ly/1mFK8KV

April 16, 2013 BoCC meeting minutes and resolution: http://bit.ly/1tAvlGU

March 18, 2014 BoCC audio: http://bit.ly/1lwNHDq

March 18, 2014 meeting minutes and resolution: http://bit.ly/WDAdAu

Current County Treasurer, Bob Balink communicated concerns about how the account had been set up to Sheriff Maketa in August 2013.  Upon hearing of the concerns, Sheriff Maketa asked County Budget Officer, Nicola Sapp to make sure the account was in compliance and annual audits were done.  During follow up emails between a member of the Treasurer’s Office and the County Budget Officer, the Treasurer’s Office does claim they were unaware of the account but also exclaimed:

“There was never any implication of wrong doing by Sheriff Maketa or his staff,” and “Sheriff Maketa told Bob that he was told that the Treasurer’s Office was claiming the Sheriff set up an ‘illegal account.’  Nothing could be further from the truth.”

See email string here: http://bit.ly/1A7vrdD

MR 14-045