How Cal Fire Academy chief emerged from scandal unscathed

  • Source: sacramento bee
  • Published: 03/10/2016 12:00 AM

By his own admission, George Morris III’s two-year tenure as the top administrator of the Cal Fire Academy in Ione was pockmarked with mistakes. He trusted subordinates too much, he told California Highway Patrol investigators during a two-hour interview Oct. 3, 2014, as a scandal was washing over his facility. He didn’t spend enough time at the academy, he said, and he left rule enforcement to managers who, in hindsight, were themselves some of the most egregious rule breakers. But when asked why he didn’t forcefully act on allegations that one of those managers, Orville “Moe” Fleming, was trolling a prostitution website,, and was in a relationship with a hooker he met there, Morris offered a defense: “It was part of his private life,” he said, according to a recording of the interview with Morris obtained by The Sacramento Bee. A few months after Morris decided not to intervene, Fleming stabbed and strangled 26-year-old Sarah June Douglas, the mistress he met through The May 2014 murder touched off a CHP probe of the academy that included more than 160 interviews and interrogations, including the one with Morris. The investigation ended in January 2015 with resignations, a termination, suspensions and demotions of 15 managers under Morris who were caught up in a sex-and-booze scandal that continues to dog the department.


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