WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Harry Morton was wealthy even before he founded Pink Taco, and has dated actresses like Lindsay Lohan, Jennifer Aniston and Britney Spears. But he was also a dedicated reserve deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“I know he loved what he did,” said Sgt. Michael Yocum with the West Hollywood sheriff’s station. “I’ve never seen a reserve like him other than his partner. Both of them put in a lot of hours.”
Morton was found dead at his Beverly Hills home Saturday by his younger brother. The cause of his death is not known, and will be announced later by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
The 38-year-old restaurateur came from a long line of restaurateurs – his father was Peter Morton, the co-founder of the Hard Rock Café and Hotel chain, while his grandfather founded Morton’s The Steakhouse. Morton previously owned the world-famous Viper Room with actor Johnny Depp.
But his background not something he talked about as he worked with detectives at the West Hollywood sheriff’s station, where Yocum said he would put in “unreal amounts of time.” Morton graduated and was hired as a reserve deputy in 2008, earning $1 a year for his work. Yocum said he went well beyond the 20 hours a week required of reserve deputies, earning him and his partner the Reserve Detective of the Year awards last year.
Today we mourn the loss of a fellow reserve deputy from @WHDLASD. #HarryMorton, 38 passed away Sat. at his home. Deputy Morton received the prestigious Reserve Detective of the Yr Award in 2018. Our prayers go out to his family, friends and co-workers for this sudden tragic loss pic.twitter.com/rG5sl6qTtL
— Malibu Search Rescue (@MalibuSAR) November 24, 2019
“He was extremely dedicated at what he did,” Yocum said. “He was absolutely down to earth, very humble.”
Morton worked with detectives, helping them leverage social media in their investigations. His longtime partner, Reserve Detective Charles Ferraro, said he brought him into the detective bureau for just this skill set.
“He’s very bright and very energetic and really knows computers and is extremely smart,” Ferraro recalls telling Morton’s lieutenant at the time as the reason why he should be reassigned to detective work.
Morton never talked about his popular taco chain or his famous string of girlfriends as they worked cases or interviewed victims, Ferraro said.
“He was the opposite. He didn’t want anybody to know,” Ferraro said. “When interviewing people, and someone would recognize him, he would let me take the lead. He was very unassuming, very self-conscious of his background. He never once used it.”
Ferraro said he is still in shock at the news of Morton’s death, especially at such a young age. He had talked recently about going skiing this week and seeing his sister in Aspen and was close to his mother, whom he talked about all the time, he said.
“He’s going to be sorely missed by everybody,” Ferraro said. “He was well loved by everyone here at the station.”