COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A former El Paso County sheriff’s deputy is speaking out after charges against him were dropped Monday.
John San Agustin was indicted in May 2016 on charges of kidnapping and false imprisonment over the arrest of Kelly Trull McMann, a person San Agustin said he’s never even met. Former sheriff Terry Maketa and former undersheriff Paula Presley were also charged in connection with the case.
Some might think Monday would have been a good day for San Agustin after all charges were dropped against him.
“There is no cloud nine,” San Agustin said. “The silver lining in this is that finally the case has been dismissed. That’s all I can say.”
His attorney, Iris Eytan, said Monday is a day that never should have happened in the first place.
“There was an abuse of power in this case,” she said. “The prosecution came after John San Agustin, who they knew had absolutely nothing to do with the arrest of Kelly McMann. They knew that in 2014 when they started the investigation, because his name never came up. They knew that in March of 2016 when Shannon Gerhart was the one that made the order to arrest Kelly McMann.”
The prosecution said in court they were dropping the charges because they didn’t have enough evidence to move the case forward, but Eytan said they didn’t have any evidence, period.
“We wanted this case tried. We want to be able to show the entire country, the community, his family, that he was innocent,” said Eytan.
Both San Agustin and his attorney believe he was targeted because he wouldn’t play office politics.
“Absolutely. I think this was all retaliation,” San Agustin said. “Look, I wasn’t willing to drink the political Kool-Aid of this community. That’s the bottom line.”
San Agustin said it all started when he first spoke out about the investigation into the murder of the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom Clements.
“In 2016, March of 2016, The Denver Post comes down and does an interview with me, which I don’t disclose any specifics of the case, it was a simple question: ‘Do you think more than one person was involved in the assassination of Tom Clements?’ I said ‘yes, more than one person was involved,'” San Agustin said.
But District Attorney Dan May and current El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder disagreed.
From there, San Agustin said, matters only got worse after he refused to testify for a grand jury that former Sheriff Terry Maketa told him to arrest Kelly Trull McMann.
“Mr. San Agustin let the prosecutors know, ‘I never got an unlawful order. Not only did I not get an unlawful order about Kelly Trull, I don’t know who she is. I’ve never heard about it and I’ve never gotten an order from Maketa that I should carry something out that’s unlawful. Never has that happened.’ And you know what happened to that subpoena? ‘Nope, we don’t need you anymore,'” said Eytan.
“Let that sink in,” said San Agustin. “On the 18th I’m supposed to testify and I’m indicted the next session of the grand jury. Yet, I’ve never been brought up in all of 2014, all of 2015 and then all of the sudden because I’m not willing to tell them what they want to hear, they come after me.”
San Agustin said it makes him question his profession of 17 years.
“Since 1998 I’ve had a part in every murder here in El Paso County from the prosecution side, and the very institution I worked for my entire adult life failed me, called me a liar, called me a kidnapper, a guy who committed false imprisonment,” he said. “It didn’t happen. It never happened.”
San Agustin said he spent his entire life building a foundation in Colorado Springs, and it has all been wiped away.
“This has such an adverse effect, not just professionally, but you don’t realize the stress that it takes on with your kids,” he said. “And your wife, and your parents and my in-laws, my brother-in-law, my brother, my sister, their kids, you know, they see Uncle John’s picture plastered all over the television. It’s a booking photo, for God’s sake. They couldn’t even take a professional photo of me.”
Despite all that has happened, San Agustin said he stands by his comments about Tom Clements and Terry Maketa. He also said he will stand by his community because it has stood by him.
“I love Colorado Springs. This is my home for 38 years, so yeah, I’m not going anywhere,” he said.CORRECTION: This story originally indicated Elder and May closed the investigation into Clements’ murder. The sheriff’s office says the investigation was never officially closed.