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Firefighter in Trouble Again for Reported Harassment

Times Staff Writer

A veteran Los Angeles fireman who was suspended for five months for slapping the buttocks and trying to touch the breasts of a woman firefighter while on duty at a Westchester firehouse is in trouble again at another fire station.

Anthony E. Morales, 33, has been suspended for 30 days without pay for “repeated violations” of department regulations at a station in the Glassell Park area, according to a report by Fire Chief Donald O. Manning to the City Fire Commission on Thursday.

Capt. Richard R. Ortiz, who works with Morales at Station 50, also has been suspended for five days without pay, Manning told the commission.

Both Morales and Ortiz were cited for violations of the same three sections of departmental regulations, requiring courteous and respectful treatment of other members of the department and conduct that will not “impair good order and discipline.”

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Won’t Discuss Specifics

The Fire Department’s community liaison officer, Battalion Chief Dean E. Cathey, said he could not discuss the specifics of the charges because they concern personnel matters.

However, the suspensions are reported to have grown out of a visit to the Glassell Park station by a woman employee of the management information systems section during the summer. She went there to instruct firefighters in the use of a computer.

Sources who spoke on condition that they would not be identified said reports have circulated that the woman, who is married, became offended when she was asked why she did not wear a wedding ring, and whether she dated.

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The woman, whose name was not released, later recounted the incident to a fellow employee, and she was overheard, leading to the complaint against Morales and Ortiz by another member of the department, sources said.

‘Denies Any Wrongdoing’

Ortiz told The Times on Friday that he had no comment on the suspension, but fireman Andy Fox, who represented Ortiz at a departmental hearing last month, said, “He emphatically denies any wrongdoing.”

Morales could not be reached for comment, but Capt. John Squire, who represented him, said, “I have no comment of any kind.”

For Morales, a seven-year veteran, the latest suspension, effective Oct. 21, was the second time in a year that he had been suspended without pay. Members of a board of rights suspended him for five months in January.

The board found Morales guilty of six charges of misconduct, including allegations that he tried to touch the breasts and slapped the buttocks of a woman firefighter while serving in the same platoon with her in Westchester early last year.

“You have not only compromised, but have totally disregarded the trust placed in you by this department and the citizens of Los Angeles,” the three-member board declared at that time.

The 30-day suspension meted out to Morales in the latest incident is the maximum penalty that could have been ordered without a hearing to air the charges before a board of rights.

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“This case has been settled,” Fire Commissioner Ann Reiss Lane said Friday. “In the future, I would hope there would be increased discipline against a person for each new offense, and at some point, termination should be mandatory.”


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