A deputy wrongly fired from his $99,000 per year post after enduring an anti-military bias inside the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) is asking a federal judge to award him $1.964 million for income he would have gained if he'd been allowed to finish his career and retire at the department.
Late last year, a federal jury concluded that OCSD illegally harassed and discriminated against Scott Montoya after the deputy returned from combat duty as a U.S. Marine in Iraq and earned the prestigious Navy Cross for his life-saving heroics while under enemy fire.
Rejecting OCSD arguments that Montoya was fired for being an unethical moron and that even if the jury found in the terminated deputy's favor on the hostile work environment issues they couldn't award him any money, jurors nonetheless handed the war hero more than $206,000 for prior, lost wages and another $41,800 for improperly confiscated vacation pay.
U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal decided it's his lone right to determine if Montoya--now unemployable because of post traumatic stress disorder--is also entitled to "front pay," or money he would have earned if he'd remained a deputy until the age of 63.
During a one-day, court trial inside federal court in Riverside this month, Bernal heard arguments from OCSD lawyers, who claim Montoya shouldn't get a penny in front pay, and from John S. Kyle, the ex-deputy's legal counsel, who insisted he should get nearly $2 million.
Bernal hasn't yet decided the issue, but OSCD lawyer William L. Haluck advised the judge to use "extreme caution" because he thinks he can embarrass him with an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
After Montoya returned from combat, the department placed him in Stanton, where other deputies mocked his heroics, degraded the Navy Cross, placed a dildo and lube in his equipment bag, dragged his locker into a toilet, threatened violence, called him names, pressed citizens to file complaints against him, attached GPS devices to his personal vehicles, secretly raided his private cell phone, placed hidden surveillance cameras at his home, bizarrely investigated the size of his genitals and stamina in bed with women, told him they would not back him up during dangerous calls, asked Pentagon officials to revoke his combat honor and then fired him.
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During the April 2003 Battle of Baghdad, Montoya--a member of a scout sniper squad--repeatedly ignored incoming enemy gunfire to rescue four seriously wounded fellow Marines and an innocent Iraqi citizen.