Taking leave from his deputy job at the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), Scott Montoya volunteered for U.S. Marine duty after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, fought in the 2003 Battle of Baghdad and returned home garnering the prestigious Navy Cross for repeated acts of combat bravery.
But Montoya's longest war--the 10-year one OCSD waged against him--is finally over.
Despite angry threats to do otherwise, county officials finally decided to accept a jury verdict and a federal judge's rulings that the agency illegally discriminated against the fired deputy in bizarre retaliation for his military service.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) bans public and private employers from discriminating against soldiers.
During a 2013 trial, William L. Haluck--the overly aggressive, Irvine-based lawyer who represented OCSD--ridiculed Montoya as a worthless freak deserving of contempt.
Instead of carrying through on Haluck's threat to appeal the case, Orange County supervisors met in closed session and in April sent checks totaling more than $2.27 million to Montoya and his San Diego-based lawyers.
Montoya lawyer John Kyle recorded the case-ending payments to U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal, according to court records.
During his front line combat duty in Baghdad, Montoya five times ran through enemy weapons' fire to rescue four wounded Marines and one shot Iraqi civilian.
When he returned to OCSD, fellow deputies mocked his heroics and accused him of not being tough enough to handle patrol duties.