Deputies falsified time cards
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.