Two Former Lawmen on an Unflattering List Found New Jobs at TriMet

The two lost their jobs at their previous agencies.

Last week, WW published a list of public safety officers with ugly histories that county prosecutors say they might need to disclose to defense attorneys in the event the officers were called to testify in court (“The Odd Squad,” Aug. 10). Some had DUIIs, others were caught lying. WW identified seven who are currently employed by local government agencies, and profiled five.

The remaining two lost their jobs at their previous agencies. Both are now employed by TriMet, the regional transit agency.

Name: John Cagle

Hired: 1997

Previous agency: Kent Police Department

Placed on the list: 2022

Status: Resigned

What he’s doing now: Customer safety supervisor at TriMet’s Safety & Security Division

John Cagle was accused by the Kent, Wash., Police Department of “taking care of” a parking ticket for a friend and later lying about it while employed as a police sergeant, according to records obtained from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. Cagle resigned rather than be fired, the records say.

Cagle tells a different story. In an interview with WW, he say he did try to help a friend get out of a parking ticket—because the ticket was invalid due to incorrect signage. But he was unable to fill out the necessary paperwork because he could not find a record of the ticket in the department’s system.

He took a polygraph at the time to prove it, but failed the test. Cagle says he then resigned not because he knew he was going to be fired, but out of frustration.

Washington’s police certification commission reviewed Cagle’s resignation but could not prove the department’s allegations, according to a letter it sent in 2010 to the Kent police chief. The commission declined to take the polygraph result into consideration without Cagle’s approval.

On Aug. 27, 2020, Cagle did finally lose his certification due to inactivity. He provided WW with a letter from the commission at the time saying his “certification is in good standing” and that it had no “allegations of misconduct” on record.

Regardless, Cagle had been added to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s “Brady list.” The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office followed suit in May 2022.

Multnomah County prosecutors took up Cagle’s case after someone sent them an email informing them of the King County decision. They reviewed the full internal affairs findings by the Kent Police Department, but didn’t release them to WW before deadline. Neither did the Kent police.

Cagle now works with TriMet’s Safety & Security Division as a “customer safety supervisor.” TriMet put him on paid administrative leave in June after learning he had been added to Multnomah County’s list. TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt said the DA’s office confirmed Cagle was on its “no witness list.” The transit agency put him on leave because “testifying is an essential function of his job.”

In fact, no one on the Multnomah County DA’s list is banned from testifying. The list merely flags a name for further review. If Cagle is flagged, prosecutors said they would consider disclosing his alleged misconduct, but would do so along with a letter he wrote in his defense.

After interviewing Cagle, WW requested a copy of that letter. Cagle declined, saying he was “tired of litigating this over yet again.”

Name: Nicholas Markos

Hired: 1996

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Placed on the list: 2021

Status: Fired

What he’s doing now: TriMet rail supervisor

Multnomah County prosecutors added Nicholas Markos to their list last year, citing the state’s decision to revoke his police certification for “misconduct and dishonesty.” He lied, prosecutors say, about “injuries he sustained in a domestic altercation” and leaking information to the media.

First, Markos’ termination letter provided by the Multnomah County’s Sheriff Office recounts a “domestic disturbance” in which someone attacked Markos after a union banquet held at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn in 2015. Markos was found “hiding in a bathroom” after being discovered “clandestinely together” with another person in a hotel room by someone who “pushed her way into the room” and then punched him multiple times in the face and chest. The names of the person and the woman were redacted.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett accused Markos of attempting to hide the incident so he didn’t have to implicate himself by reporting it to his superiors. Markos denied being injured when interviewed by investigators, despite testimony by multiple witnesses to the contrary.

As for the leak: It was a letter sent in April 2015 to The Oregonian that outlined rampant sexual misconduct in the sheriff’s office, including deputies having sex with trainees and at least one instance of sexual assault. The sheriff’s office immediately announced an investigation.

That letter was sent by a friend of Markos’, Samantha Parrish, at Markos’ urging, he tells WW.

It landed like a bomb in the sheriff’s office. At least three deputies were put on administrative leave. One, Sgt. Dan Cardinal, resigned a few months later. Cpl. Jon Christensen was fired later that year. The third, Deputy David Bergquist, retired the following year.

All three had their state certifications revoked. And so did Markos.

“I was retaliated against because I was a whistleblower,” Markos tells WW. “I did the right thing. But because it’s law enforcement, I’m a snitch.”

That’s not how the state board that certifies law enforcement officers saw it.

In 2018, a committee at the state certification board voted in favor of revoking Markos’ certification. Garrett was a member but recused himself. The 14 other committee members voted unanimously to discipline Markos for gross misconduct, misuse of authority and dishonesty.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office provided WW with a redacted copy of Markos’ termination notice, dated Jan. 27, 2017. It’s signed by Garrett. A spokesman for the office, Sgt. Danny DiPietro, said over 100 pages of corroborating documents from the office’s internal investigation into Markos would be released later this week.

The 10-page letter outlines various misconduct by Markos, including lying and filming women having sex at another union party in 2014. It notes that even if Markos had intended to be honest, the “totality of his misconduct” warranted his firing.

But, “most aggravating,” Garrett wrote, was the fact that Markos reported the criminal conduct in an anonymous letter to The Oregonian and not to his superiors.

The Portland Police Bureau also opened a criminal investigation into Markos as a result of the letter, according to legal filings. But Markos was never charged.

In a lawsuit filed after his firing, Markos sued the sheriff’s office for retaliation and asked for $1 million in damages. He dropped the lawsuit the following year.

Markos no longer works in public safety. He is a TriMet rail supervisor. “All I do is make sure the trains keep moving,” he tells WW.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Cagle’s division at TriMet. It is the Safety & Security Division, not the Transit Police Division.