COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Three department commanders in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office have filed a formal complaint against Sheriff Terry Maketa, accusing him of having affairs with subordinates, verbally abusing those who questioned the relationships and removing oversight of the department’s $60 million budget.

Maketa, the face of calm during last year’s Black Forest Fire, has denied the claims reported Friday by The Gazette.

“I have never had an inappropriate sexual relationship with any of the three individuals you named,” he told the newspaper.

The allegations come from a complaint submitted to county commissioners by three of Maketa’s commanders: Rodney Gehrett, Mitchel Lincoln and Robert King. It names three women alleged to have had sexual relationships with Maketa: Undersheriff Paula Presley; the head of training for dispatchers, Tiffany Huntz; and comptroller Dorene Cardarelle, who largely controls the department’s budget.

The complaint was submitted May 12 to the El Paso County Commission, The Gazette said.

The women denied having sexual relationships with Maketa, and county commissioners did not respond to calls and emails from The Gazette seeking comment. A county spokesman refused to comment, telling The Gazette it was a personnel issue.

Cardarelle denied the claim and refused to comment further, the newspaper said.

Presley said an email to The Gazette: “Your allegations are ridiculous and inappropriate. I have never had an inappropriate sexual relationship with the sheriff and to further suggest that I was promoted as a result is incomprehensible.”

“I have never had a sexual relationship with the sheriff,” Huntz said, calling the allegations “outrageous.”

The commanders allege Maketa has removed checks and balances on the budget since taking office in 2003 so only Maketa and Cardarelle know what is on the books.

“The current organizational structure has eliminated the checks and balances that would normally be required to ensure the huge sum of taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” the commanders wrote in the complaint, which says Presley and Huntz also received favorable treatment.

Maketa promoted Presley to undersheriff in 2012 and picked her to run as his successor in 2014. She chose not to run, saying at the time she did not want to get involved in politics.

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