Jun 6, 2014 1:26 AM by Maddie Garrett

Undersheriff out on sick leave, could have up to 36 weeks off

News 5 is digging deeper into the latest development in the El Paso County Sheriff's Office scandal, in which Undersheriff Paula Presley is out on sick leave as of Thursday. This comes in the midst of an investigation into her, Sheriff Terry Maketa, the Comptroller and dispatch supervisor, all accused of inappropriate relationships and abuse of power.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Presley could technically have accrued 1,440 hours of sick leave. That totals 36 weeks of sick time she could possibly take. In the Sheriff's Office policies, someone hired before 2003 with more than 5 consecutive years as an employee can accrue that many hours as the maximum amount. The policy has since changed, but Presley is grandfathered under the old policy.

"She may very well be out on paid sick leave on her full regular pay rate for quite some time," said employment law attorney Gary Kramer.

While it's unknown how many hours Presley has accrued over the years, or how many she plans to take, she does have every right to use all of her sick time for an illness or injury. Kramer explained, many conditions can fall under those categories.

"Illness can almost certainly include the possibility of being potentially sick because of a psychological condition," said Kramer.

But extended sick time likely wouldn't go unchecked at the Sheriff's Office. In most cases and with most employers, a physician's note and/or updates from the employee are required by the employer.

"She's going to have to be under the care of a physician who is able to articulate that it is an illness that prevents her from performing her duties," explained Kramer.

The sick leave falls right in the middle of a serious investigation, one in which Presley is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Sheriff Maketa. And just days before, the County took seven hard drives from the Sheriff's Office, including Presley's and Maketa's.

Kramer said, her sick leave could impact that investigation.

"My sense is it will be very difficult for the investigators to require her participation if she is in a valid medical leave status and we don't know how long if at all that will last," Kramer said.

The Sheriff's Office said Presley will return to work once the medical reasons subside. Meanwhile, Al Harmon is acting as Undersheriff in Presley's absence.


» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.


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