Jurors deliberating former Colorado sheriff’s extortion case

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. | The fate of a former Colorado sheriff charged with extortion and witness tampering is in a jury’s hands.
Jurors began deliberating Monday after closing arguments in the case involving former El Paso County sheriff Terry Maketa, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported https://goo.gl/AdpKZA .
The former lawman is accused of trying to undermine the credibility of three deputies and threatening to terminate a $5.3 million contract with the jail’s health provider if it did not fire an employee who refused to support then-Undersheriff Paula Presley’s candidacy to succeed him.
Prosecutors also said Maketa and others coerced a woman involved in a domestic dispute with a deputy to recant her story so the deputy could keep his job.
Maketa, 52, declined to take the stand in his own defense.
The defense rested its case late Monday morning after calling its sixth witness — about a quarter of the roughly two dozen called by the prosecution.
Maketa was charged with nine counts alleging that he abused his power during his turbulent third term in office. Prosecutors argued that he wanted to damage political rivals and destroy the careers of deputies and others who had crossed him
The charges include four felonies — extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, witness tampering and conspiracy to commit witness tampering.
Two sheriff’s employees testified Monday that internal affairs investigations into alleged victims in the case had no undue influence by Maketa. That contradicted claims by prosecutors, who called the probes politically motivated.
Prosecutors argued that those investigations were ordered to target known supporters of then-sheriff’s candidate, and current sheriff, Bill Elder.
Jurors are scheduled to resume deliberations on Tuesday.
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Information from: The Gazette, https://www.gazette.com