SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A former Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy was charged Thursday with multiple felonies after allegedly breaking into the home of a dead Yorba Linda man, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Steve Hortz, 42, of San Dimas is facing three felony counts of second degree burglary and two felony counts of grand theft of a firearm in connection with breaking into the home.
Hortz initially responded to the home on Via Angelina Drive with two other deputies July 20 to conduct a welfare check. The homeowner was found deceased of what was later determined to be natural causes.
A 12-year veteran of the department, Hortz is accused of returning to the home while in uniform on July 27 and breaking into the home while on duty. He is also accused of returning to the home on two more occasions — Aug. 10 and 16 — shortly before he was scheduled to work and stealing items from the home, including a total of 15 firearms.
OCSD initiated an investigation into the accusations after the probate attorney handling the homeowner’s estate reported that a law enforcement officer may have broken into the home and stolen items, as shown in security camera footage.
Hortz was arrested Sept. 10 and resigned effective Sept. 30 in lieu of termination.
“The failure of a single law enforcement officer to live up to his or her oath does not just tarnish that officer’s badge, it tarnishes the badge of the hundreds of thousands of honorable law enforcement officers who work day in and day out to protect and serve,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. “When we call on law enforcement officers for help, we expect that they answer that call for help with the purest intentions to help those in need, not as an opportunity to scope out the situation in order to return later and victimize the very people they are sworn to protect.”
Hortz is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 13. If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum sentence of four years and four months in state prison.