Santa Ana, California - Twin brothers – both former Orange County sheriff’s deputies – pleaded guilty yesterday to federal charges and admitted that they defrauded Orange County taxpayers by submitting approximately two dozen fraudulent military orders to obtain military leave from the Sheriff’s Department so they would not be docked vacation days.
Taylor Morgan, 26, and Tyler Morgan, 26, both of Long Beach, each pleaded guilty in separate hearings to a single-count information charging them with unlawful possession of an authentication feature of the United States, a misdemeanor offense.
United States Magistrate Judge Autumn D. Spaeth sentenced each defendant to one year of probation. Taylor Morgan further was sentenced to six months of home detention and ordered to pay $14,000 in restitution while Tyler Morgan was sentenced to eight months of home detention and was ordered to pay $32,400 in restitution.
According to their plea agreements, Tyler Morgan was employed as a correctional service assistant and deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) from August 2015 to January 2021. Taylor Morgan had the same job titles with OCSD from January 2017 to January 2020. Both men also were in reserve units for the United States Marine Corps in Camp Pendleton.
As part of their employment with OCSD, the defendants received 30 days of leave per year that could be used for vacations, military leave and other personal reasons. In addition to such leave, the defendants received an additional 30 days of leave per year when they had to fulfill their active duty obligations with their reserve units with the Marine Corps, including annual training.
From June 2017 to November 2019, Tyler Morgan submitted 24 fraudulent military orders to OCSD to obtain military leave from the department. From May 2017 to January 2020, Taylor Morgan submitted 25 fraudulent military orders to OCSD to obtain military leave from the department. In fact, neither had been ordered by the Marine Corps to fulfill active duty obligations with their reserve units.
Both defendants admitted that they defrauded the County of Orange to obtain wages paid for military leave by committing wire fraud using the fraudulent military orders. The defendants altered orders that appeared to be official notices requiring them to serve active duty at Camp Pendleton. The fraudulent orders appeared to have been authorized by a Marine Corps official and had the Department of Defense’s seal on them.
The defendants submitted the fraudulent orders to OCSD’s Professional Standard Division so they would receive military leave from the county on the dates listed on the orders and their vacation days would not be used. In most instances, the defendants were at inactive duty training (also known as drill), which OCSD did not compensate for military leave.
In at least one instance, Tyler Morgan did not inform OCSD that he was at drill or that the dates of his drill duties had changed, causing the County of Orange to incorrectly compensate him as if he had been on active duty. Tyler Morgan admitted to submitting a fraudulent military order that appeared to be from the Marine Corps requiring him to be on active duty for one week in late July 2019. In fact, he was on active duty for only part of that time period. Tyler Morgan did not inform OCSD that, during that week, he was also on drill, took a trip to Las Vegas, and spent one day at home playing the “Call of Duty” video game.
In total, Taylor Morgan received 48 days of military leave to which he was not entitled, resulting in a loss of $14,000 to the County of Orange. Tyler Morgan received 64 days of fraudulently obtained military leave, resulting in a loss of $32,400 to the County.
The FBI and the United States Department of Defense – Office of Inspector General investigated this matter. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department provided substantial assistance.
Assistant United States Attorney Vibhav Mittal of the Santa Ana Branch Office prosecuted these cases.