SANTA ANA (CNS) - Felony charges were filed today against a former 12-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff's Department who allegedly broke into the Yorba Linda home of a man who had recently died and stole guns and goods from the residence on three separate occasions.
Ex-Deputy Steve Hortz, 42, of San Dimas, is charged with two counts of grand theft of a firearm and three counts of second-degree burglary, with arraignment scheduled for Oct. 13 in the North Justice Center in Fullerton.
Hortz could face up to four years and four months in prison if convicted as charged. He resigned Sept. 30 as he was faced with being fired, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Hortz initially went to the home with two other deputies on July 20 to conduct a welfare check and found the homeowner dead of what was later confirmed as natural causes, according to prosecutors. The resident was in his 70s, according to Sheriff Don Barnes.
Hortz allegedly returned to the Via Angelina Drive home July 27 in uniform while on duty and broke in. At that time he left the door open to return to the residence later, Barnes alleged.
Hortz allegedly returned to the house two more times -- on Aug. 10 and Aug. 16 -- and took two safes, two ceiling fans, a rifle case and a rifle.
“He has embarrassed this profession,'' Barnes told reporters last month as he vowed to try to put Hortz on leave without pay.
In early September, the deceased man's family realized the goods were missing and called the sheriff's department to report the thefts, the sheriff said. On Sept. 9, an attorney for the family showed sheriff's investigators home surveillance video that allegedly shows Hortz taking the property, Barnes said.
“I cannot tell you how disappointed I am,'' he said then. “I also want to apologize to the family of the deceased.''
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