Former Lake County undersheriff Fernando Mendoza’s bond set at $100K on sex charges
Fernando Mendoza Charges
• Attempted Sexual Exploitation of a Child, a felony.
• Attempt to Commit First Degree Aggravated Incest, felony
• Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, felony.
• Attempt to Commit Invasion of Privacy for Sexual Gratification, felony
• Embezzlement of Public Property, felony
• Two counts of Second Degree Official Misconduct, petty offense.
Conditions of Mendoza’s $100,000 bond include: No contact with children younger than 18 and no contact with any alleged victim.
Mendoza’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 23, at 1:30 p.m. in Lake County District Court.
LEADVILLE — Former Lake County Undersheriff Fernando Mendoza was fired last month amid sexual harassment allegations.
Those allegations became real earlier this week when a grand jury indicted Mendoza on seven charges. Mendoza made his first court appearance Wednesday, Dec. 13, where his bond was set at $100,000.
Mendoza’s troubles are reaching into the department he helped lead, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Friday, Dec. 15.
“With an eye toward moving forward in a positive way, several steps will be taken immediately to improve the morale of employees and ensure all policies and procedures are appropriate for the office,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Investigation began in October
Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown’s office began investigating Mendoza in October, after three female 911 dispatchers reported Mendoza for harassing them. The women told Denver7 that Mendoza had repeatedly sent them lewd messages while they were on and off duty. The allegations soon spread beyond the department.
“We were contacted by additional victims after we began the investigation,” Brown told the Summit Daily News. “The connection there is that the initial complaint was made and it was very well publicized.”
One victim is related to Mendoza and was a minor at the time of the allegations. She claims that as far back as 2013, Mendoza tried to entice her to post nude photos of herself online, Brown told the Summit Daily News.
Mendoza also allegedly used a camera that belonged to the sheriff’s office to spy on the girl while she was in the bathroom, leading the grand jury to indict him for embezzlement of public property and invasion of privacy for sexual gratification — both felonies.
In addition to those two felonies and two petty offenses, Mendoza is also charged with felonies for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempted sexual exploitation of a child and incest.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said in its statement that “all efforts will be made to determine any policy or procedure changes that need to be strengthened or modified.”
“While personnel and operational policies and procedures should be reviewed, evaluated and revised regularly, this is an opportune time to ensure the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has taken the necessary steps to eliminate any space for impropriety,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.