By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4 has learned that a group of at least a half dozen Denver sheriff deputies and their supervisor are under investigation for repeatedly leaving work early last year, yet getting paid for time they were not at their posts.
“When they do that, even if it’s for small amounts of time, we want to make sure we are holding them accountable,” said Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman.
Multiple sheriff department sources familiar with the investigation say at least a half a dozen deputies — and possibly as many as 13 who work in the court services division at the Lindsey-Flanagan Courthouse — are being scrutinized in an internal affairs investigation for leaving work 30 minutes to an hour early on approximately 10 occasions, yet filling out timecards to suggest they worked until the end of their assigned shifts.
Sources say the early departures were confirmed by courthouse cameras.
Firman declined to discuss specifics of the current investigation but said, ”They are betraying our trust. We trust them to be here when they say they are going to be here.”
Sources familiar with the investigation say the sergeant who oversaw the deputies — Gabriella Velez — has been transferred from her court services position to a different post within the department.
CBS4 contacted Velez’s husband, who declined to put a reporter in touch with his wife.
At the same time, CBS4 has learned another deputy — George Rodriguez — is facing a similar investigation. City records show Deputy Rodriguez has been under investigation since May 9, 2016, for improper procedure and is formally accused of being “Absent from Duty.” To date, no disciplinary action has been taken in his case.
Last year, Deputy Dick Montoya Jr. was ordered suspended for 30 days and ordered to repay the city for repeatedly leaving work early. He admitted regularly leaving his post because “all the work was done.”
An internal investigation showed Montoya Jr. left his 10-hour Saturday shift early on at least 13 occasions. A city administrator wrote, ” … Deputy Montoya engaged in theft from the city.”
The news of the early departures comes just after CBS4 reported that the sheriff department paid nearly $14 million in overtime to deputies in 2016. That amount far eclipsed the nearly $11 million in overtime paid in 2015 and the $8 million in overtime paid in 2014.