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Fountain Fire Chief leaves department amid lawsuit over defamation, conspiracy

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (KRDO) -- Fountain Fire Chief James Maxon is no longer with the fire department, the city announced Monday, weeks after Maxon filed a lawsuit alleging that multiple people conspired to defame Maxon and get him fired.

The city of Fountain released a statement Monday confirming that Maxon "is no longer employed ... as of Friday, February 11, 2022."

Maxon had been on administrative leave, but the Fountain City Manager said that it wasn't related to a criminal or police investigation. The city said Monday, "we do not share details about personnel issues."

According to a lawsuit that was filed in January 2022 and obtained by 13 Investigates, Maxon claims that false allegations of sexual harassment were made against him. He claims that two Fountain firefighters and a former Fountain Fire captain "fabricated and encouraged women to make unfounded allegations of sexual harassment by Chief Maxon."

The lawsuit says Maxon was informed he was being placed on leave in or around December 2021 "pending the results of an investigation by the City of Fountain." The lawsuit goes on to say that Ryan Torres, one of the defendants, became interim fire chief and conducted his own investigation into the complaints. The lawsuit also says another defendant, firefighter Tyler Lowe, "made numerous objectively false allegations of Chief Maxon's conduct, including but not limited to, that Chief Maxon had inappropriately pursued women and had threatened him." Maxon's lawsuit says Lowe has been "temporarily reassigned to the Fountain Police Department."

The third defendant accused of defaming Maxon in the lawsuit, Nathan Mascarenas, was a former captain with the department who was fired following an investigation that determined he had "harassed women and made racist comments." The lawsuit says Mascarenas began posting public statements about Maxon on his Facebook page when the chief was placed on leave. Those posts were song references to Maxon's pending employment status, including "Bye Bye Bye" by N'Sync on Dec. 14, 2021; "The Final Countdown" by Europe on Jan. 6, 2022; "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen on Jan. 8, 2022; and "Closer" by Ne-Yo in mid-January with the commentary, "Yup, your [sic] getting closer. Will it be this week? We will see. Enjoy." The lawsuit says other members of the Fountain Fire Department "liked" and commented on the post, indicating "that individuals understand the posts to reference the investigation of Chief Maxon."

Screenshots of Nathan Mascarenas' Facebook posts

The lawsuit also says that Torres contacted a Colorado Springs TV station and provided "false information about Chief Maxon." The lawsuit says a reporter at the station contacted a "highly respected resident of Fountain" to ask for comment about Maxon being placed on administrative leave, but Mascarenas directly responded to the reporter with a "false representation" about Maxon. The lawsuit says that "individuals told the reporter that the reason Chief Maxon was being placed on leave was because he had sexually harassed multiple women."

The defendants didn't contact KRDO, and our search of the TV station's reporting didn't find any stories published about the allegations against Maxon.

Maxon is accusing the defendants of defamation, tortious interference with contractual relations, civil conspiracy, and outrageous conduct/intentional infliction of emotional distress in the lawsuit. He's also requesting a jury trial. In addition to Torres, Lowe, and Mascarenas, there are three unnamed defendants in the lawsuit.

Maxon had joined the Fountain Fire Department in 2019 after retiring from a 13-year career with the Sandoval County, New Mexico, Fire Department.

The city of Fountain said, "We are grateful for the accomplishments of Chief Maxon during his tenure here and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Maxon declined an interview request on Monday.

We reached out to the Mascarenas for comment on the claims in the suit. Check back for updates.

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Andrew McMillan


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