LEADVILLE, Colo. – Former Lake County Undersheriff Fernando Mendoza was sentenced Friday to 15 months in jail for attempted first-degree aggravated incest and attempted invasion of privacy charges, more than a year after he was arrested and accused of sexually harassing several dispatchers and engaging in sexual conduct with his stepdaughter.
Mendoza, 49, of Leadville will serve a year in jail for the attempted invasion of privacy charge and three months for the attempted first-degree aggravated incest charge, according to a spokesperson for the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The sentence also calls for ten years to life probation for the aggravated incest charge, which, if violated, could cause Mendoza to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
According to the spokesperson, the district attorney requested a term of four years to life, but the court instead allowed Mendoza a probationary sentence.
During the sentencing, the judge also said Mendoza would no longer be allowed to be a law enforcement officer since he is a convicted felon, and that he will have to be on the sex offender registry. He will not be listed as a sexually violent predator.
Additionally, Mendoza will have no access to the internet and will not be able to have contact with children. He will also not be able to have firearms.
"Mr. Mendoza, you chose to be a law enforcement officer, you chose to keep yourself to a higher standard. You took an oath, you were sworn in to serve and protect, to protect the weak that preyed upon the vulnerable and you broke the very law that you swore you would uphold,” said Judge Karen A. Romeo of Colorado's 5th Judicial District during the sentencing.
She continued, “As a result, the community has very little trust in law enforcement.”
Mendoza’s alleged conduct was first reported by Denver7, and he was fired in November 2017 after the allegations came to light.
According to an indictment, Mendoza started asking his stepdaughter in 2012 to send him nude photos of herself when she was either 14 or 15 years old. The indictment alleges that Mendoza also asked her to send him photos or videos of her engaged in sexual conduct with other people.
He allegedly kept a camera from the sheriff’s office in his stepdaughter’s bathroom and bedroom in order to watch her, court documents said.
At least three sheriff’s office employees also alleged to Denver7 that Mendoza, the former undersheriff, had sexually harassed them while at work.