Fired Garco deputy denies wrongdoing
November 9, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Brandon Pariscoff said the allegations leading to his termination from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office are false, and that they were in retaliation for his turning in an unethical deputy district attorney.
“They are very untrue. They are very unfair, and I have documents to support that,” Pariscoff told the Post Independent Thursday. “What happened to me is not right.”
He said his objective is to clear his name and that he’s in the process of hiring an attorney.
According to Pariscoff, former 9th Judicial District Deputy District Attorneys Dawn O’Neil and Carisa Acker visited him in Grand Junction on Oct. 6. O’Neil and another friend – not Acker – said they wanted to smoke a bowl of marijuana, Pariscoff said, but at first he didn’t take it seriously, because he thought they were joking. The pair later went to a car in the parking lot and came back in. Pariscoff went to the car after that and smelled marijuana, he said.
After two or three days of deliberating while his mother begged him not to turn O’Neil in for fear of retaliation, Pariscoff turned O’Neil in by calling the professional standards commander for the sheriff’s office and by contacting the district attorney’s office, according to Pariscoff and his mother, Christine Johnson.
“I decided to do it because it was the right thing to do,” Pariscoff said. “I felt compelled to turn in an unethical (deputy) DA.”
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Acker said she was there that night as the designated driver, didn’t know whether or not O’Neil had smoked marijuana, and told the DA’s office the same thing during an interview. She left the DA’s office only for a job in Grand Junction that pays a higher salary with a lower cost of living, she said.
O’Neil’s employment was terminated on Oct. 12.
Pariscoff said that a few days after he turned her in, O’Neil made allegations against him of “conduct unbecoming” for purposes of retaliation. He wouldn’t go into detail.
Johnson also said that O’Neil falsely accused her son of doing something sexually inappropriate with her in a patrol vehicle.
Efforts to reach O’Neil were unsuccessful.
Pariscoff said he volunteered for a lie detector test because the allegations were an obvious act of retaliation. He was given a termination letter stating something along the lines of, “The allegations against you of conduct unbecoming were unsubstantiated, but it appears you have been deceptive during the investigation,” he said.
“It was based on a CVSA (Computer Voice Stress Analysis), which is not even admissible in court,” Pariscoff said.
He also said an alibi of his was never contacted and the sheriff’s office wouldn’t put O’Neil on a lie-detector.
“What is the truth?” he said. “If they had truth that was against what I was saying, they would have substantiated the allegations that were against me.”
“How come (District Attorney) Martin Beeson puts out a memo saying Brandon is being fired for allegations of dishonesty and never put out memos about (deputy) district attorneys’ dishonest conduct?” Pariscoff said.
The sheriff’s office terminated Pariscoff on Oct. 26. Allegations of “dishonesty” were mentioned in the notice alerting certain attorneys and defendants of the termination being possible exculpatory information.
Sheriff Lou Vallario said the conduct unbecoming allegations became irrelevant once his office determined Pariscoff was deceptive during the course of the investigation. The validity of CVSAs and lie-detectors can be debated endlessly, he said, but Colorado statute says a deputy works at the will of the sheriff.
“We cannot have people in our profession that lie,” he said. “Based on the investigation and evidence presented to me, I felt very comfortable that he was being deceptive during the investigation, and that’s all we need. … In my opinion this is a good thing. I hope the community appreciates the fact that we are policing ourselves and weeding out people who can’t be truthful.”
Beeson said he can’t comment further on specifics of the issue because it’s a personnel matter.
But Johnson said, “This is just a smear campaign for her to ruin him because he turned Dawn in for smoking marijuana, so they fired her. Now she’s turning around and saying that he’s done something wrong sexually, and now my kid is just so devastated.”