Deputies fal­si­fied time cards

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Noelle Phillips

The Den­ver Sher­iff Depart­ment has sus­pended a sergeant and three deputies with­out pay af­ter su­per­vi­sors dis­cov­ered they were leav­ing their posts at the court­house with­out clock­ing out. As a re­sult, of­fi­cials said, they were paid for hours they didn’t work and pos­si­bly jeop­ar­dized court­house se­cu­rity.

The depart­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing other per­son­nel to see if the prac­tice was more wide­spread.

Sgt. Gabriela Velez and deputies Jon Bruno, Ge­orge Ro­driguez and Jhar­quis Scott were sus­pended with­out pay for 18 days in July. A fourth deputy re­tired be­fore his dis­ci­plinary process was fin­ished, said Dae­lene Mix, a spokes­woman for Den­ver’s Depart­ment of Safety.

The deputies worked at the Den­ver City-County build­ing, but sher­iff depart­ment of­fi­cials are now re­view­ing deputies’ sched­ules at the Lindsey-Flani­gan court­house af­ter sus­pi­cions were raised that some night-shift work­ers there might have mir­rored the be­hav­ior, Mix said.

“They’re look­ing at em­ploy­ees re­gard­less of which court­house to see if there are prob­lems else­where,” she said.

The deputies were as­signed to work at the city­county build­ing un­til 8:30 p.m. to pro­vide se­cu­rity for traf­fic court and the cashier’s of­fice, ac­cord­ing to the June dis­ci­plinary let­ters ob­tained by The Den­ver Post.

The deputies’ early de­par­tures were dis­cov­ered in May 2016 af­ter an em­ployee’s tip. Capt. Deric Wynn and a divi­sion chief watched footage from court­house se­cu­rity cam­eras that showed the deputies leav­ing early ev­ery night for four days, the dis­ci­plinary let­ters said. How­ever, the deputies’ time cards showed they worked full shifts, of­fi­cials said. Bruno, Ro­driguez and Scott some­times even claimed they worked over­time al­though they were not on duty, their dis­ci­plinary let­ters said.

Velez, who be­came a deputy in 2006, left early six days in June 2016, her let­ter said. In­ves­ti­ga­tors also found at least one in­stance when she claimed 30 min­utes of over­time in the morn­ing but left an hour early in the af­ter­noon. She was docked 7.27 hours of va­ca­tion time in ad­di­tion to her sus­pen­sion.

Bruno, who was hired as a deputy in 1996, had left a to­tal of 11.2 hours early over nine days in April and May of 2016, his let­ter said.

Ro­driguez, who has been a deputy since 1992, had left a to­tal of 9.92 hours early over eight days in April and May of 2016, ac­cord­ing to his let­ter.

Scott, who has been a deputy since 2005, had left a to­tal of 12.24 hours early over 10 days in April 2016, his let­ter said.

The deputies left early de­spite a 2015 memo from a cap­tain stat­ing they were not to do so. Velez said she was trained by for­mer sergeants to al­low peo­ple to leave the build­ing if the courtrooms were empty and ev­ery­one had gone home for the day.

“I don’t know who put that in place prior to me, but I know it’s been go­ing on even back in the days in the old build­ing,” Velez told in­ves­ti­ga­tors. “I mean, they used to cut out three or four hours at a time. Now it’s an is­sue? I guess it’s an is­sue in to­day’s DSD, but back then it should have al­ways been an is­sue, I guess.”

The three deputies avoided a more harsh pun­ish­ment by ad­mit­ting to the wrong-do­ing and sign­ing agree­ments stat­ing they would not ap­peal the dis­ci­plinary de­ci­sions, Mix said. The dis­ci­plinary out­come will im­pact them through­out their re­main­ing ca­reers, she said.

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