Here’s a recap from last week:
On Friday, the second day of testimony in the corruption trial of ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, defense attorneys challenged witnesses over the 2013 firing of a woman who had drawn his ire.
At issue is whether the embattled former lawman committed extortion when he told top officials of a jail health care contractor that he would yank a $5 million medical services contract unless they terminated Wendy Habert.
“It threw us into a bit of a tailspin and we didn’t know how to respond to it,” said Carl Anderson, a former administrator at Nashville, Tenn.-based Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc.
Habert, a CHC employee who worked at the jail and oversaw the lucrative contract, was fired soon after.
In testimony that drew fireworks on Thursday, Habert framed her termination as an act of revenge by Maketa – partly because she accused a top-ranking sheriff’s commander of sexual harassment and partly because she refused to help Undersheriff Paula Presley, a close Maketa ally, run to succeed Maketa.
The defense, which described Habert as a “problem employee” during opening statements, hammered on what they portrayed as Habert’s checkered job performance, including episodes in which she used obscene language during tense confrontations with Maketa and Presley.
On Friday, Maketa attorney David Kaplan repeatedly invoked Habert’s insult to Presley, in which she admitted calling the undersheriff a “train wreck bitch.”
He also asked about a phone call she placed to Maketa in which she used an obscenity before hanging up.
Anderson, who said he wasn’t aware of those claims at the time, agreed both incidents would raise concerns from CHC’s perspective.