Sergeant Scott Montoya's Strange Fall

Fired OC deputy claims sheriff's department punished him for winning Navy Cross in Iraq War combat

After Montoya allegedly failed 30 attempts to correctly perform car-stop training in a simulated, stress-free environment, Keller says, his trainee "became so angry with himself that he hit himself in the forehead with a microphone, causing a small abrasion on his forehead."

Keller's observations about the courageous combat veteran who graduated first in his Camp Pendleton Marine Corps basic-training class and obtained a black belt in karate may have been colored by animus. Department records show that Montoya believes his trainer mocked his Iraq heroics by displaying at the OCSD Stanton station a newspaper article about two Marines who died in combat to save dozens of others from a car bomber. Keller made a point to describe the two dead soldiers as "real" heroes. He also openly belittled Montoya in an on-duty, deputy chat system installed in patrol cars, writing that the only reason his understudy passed training was because he was "the sheriff's boy."

No deputy took credit for the other acts committed against the Marine at the Stanton station: someone desecrated a city of Buena Park award Montoya received for his war service; someone posted in the deputies' briefing room a note selling Navy Cross hats two for $10—implying the honor could be bought cheap; someone took a "Private Instructor" business card, crossed out the name, replaced it with Montoya's, crossed out the real phone number and replaced that with "1-800-NVY-CROS." And, of course, there was the aforementioned dildo incident.

Sheriff Hutchens could not tolerate reports of chronic womanizing and ethical lapses
Steve Weigl
Sheriff Hutchens could not tolerate reports of chronic womanizing and ethical lapses

The personal attacks befuddled Montoya. "I have been the center of several cruel jokes and rumors at this station but feel this incident [Navy Cross hats sale joke] is out of line and out of the policy of the department," he wrote to Captain Robert Eason, the department's chief of police in the city, while complaining of a "hostile" work environment that existed for years. "I believe I served this country honorably and do not deserve to be treated in a way that disrespects the nature of the award. Also, I feel it brings disrespect to the sheriff's department if others outside the department find out how a select few deputies treat their co-workers."

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Using federal grants, several Orange County entities—including the district attorney's office, school administrators, Anaheim Police Department and the OCSD—helped create a Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP) in 2007 to address the festering issue of truancy. The department chose Montoya to be its first GRIP officer to regularly visit Latino-dominated elementary schools in Stanton and serve as a role model. Lee Trujillo, who replaced Eason as the OCSD boss in Stanton, said Montoya was the obvious choice for the high-profile job.

"I was really impressed by the way he communicated, way he carried himself," Trujillo testified in a 2012 deposition. "And I was impressed with—he's a—let's face it: He is a war hero. I was impressed by all that—and I thought, 'Wow, what a role model for this community.' There's somebody who can speak directly to the kids and say, 'Hey, look at what I've done. Follow me.' I thought, 'Wow, we're very fortunate to have somebody like him working for us.'"

OCSD Internal Affairs (IA) agents didn't share Trujillo's view. Puzzlingly, Montoya got the job after the deputy was suspended without pay for 240 hours for lying to Fullerton Police Department detectives in 2006 about his personal relationship with Anthony Ray Willis, a Westminster man who committed a series of sex crimes, including numerous felony, lewd acts on a child. Phone records showed Willis repeatedly in contact with the deputy while Fullerton PD anxiously hunted him. When the detectives learned of Montoya's connection and contacted him, he allegedly gave non-forthcoming answers.

IA officers also uncovered information from several sources that Montoya may have solicited "pussy or material" from Willis, who'd been wanted for probation violations, while seen traveling with the deputy around town prior to the sex-crimes charges, according to court records. An investigation proved Montoya knew Willis was wanted because he repeatedly checked the department's system for outstanding warrants. Court records containing the department's reports also allege that Willis told investigators he gave the deputy an expensive, new motorcycle jacket and helmet, and introduced him to females for dates in exchange for not arresting him. Willis is serving a 41-years-to-life prison sentence inside the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County.

Why OCSD officials—who doubted Montoya's character—would make him the GRIP officer is a mystery. What is known, however, is that while the deputy complained about the department not taking his hostile-workplace claims seriously, IA began to monitor his every on-duty move in secret. Their findings, if believed, present a startling portrait of a monumental liar and unquenchable playboy. In 2010, department officials told Montoya that investigations "revealed that you used your GRIP position as a means to meet various women" and "your main objective was to solicit, while on duty, as many women as possible," including at Stanton elementary schools.

Tracking his whereabouts to the 10th of a second, the IA agents claimed they found dozens of discrepancies in the deputy's work log. According to OCSD reports, Montoya falsely claimed to attend meetings he never attended, to be working when he was chatting at 7-Elevens for 30-minute stints or longer, and to be on patrol calls when he was actually visiting various friends or women—or just sitting idle in empty parking lots.

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