Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fired Hernando County deputy charged with identity theft over e-mails

BROOKSVILLE — The e-mails referred to one of the highest-ranking officers at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office as "racist." They alleged discriminatory treatment against some of the deputies. They were supposedly coming from Sgt. George Smith.

However, the e-mails were all the work of an online thief, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Former Deputy Harold Morales, who was fired in October during his probationary period, has been charged with seven felony counts of identity theft after being accused of using a former supervisor's e-mail address to send out the e-mails.

The motive "appears to be revenge," said Sgt. Donna Black, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. "It's not an issue of what he said as much as the identity theft."

Morales, 41, of Spring Hill was arrested Monday and later booked into the Hernando County Jail, according to the Sheriff's Office. It wasn't immediately clear if Morales remained in custody Monday evening.

A message left at Morales' home wasn't returned.

According to the arrest report, Morales started sending e-mails on March 24 to the Web sites of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He disguised his identity by using the Sheriff's Office account of Sgt. Smith and two other e-mail accounts that identified Smith as the sender.

The e-mails, which weren't sent to anyone in particular, were "both slanderous and make criminal accusations against primarily the Chief Deputy (Michael Hensley) but also Sheriff (Richard) Nugent," according to the report.

The report said the e-mails referred to Hensley as "racist" and mentioned incidents where other deputies had faced no discipline for leaving their assigned zones.

Morales, who is originally from Puerto Rico, had been fired for a similar offense, according to the report.

Black said Morales apparently had access to Smith's account because he was a former employee. The e-mails were not immediately released because the investigation is still open.

During the subsequent investigation, the Sheriff's Office discovered the e-mail addresses were registered to Morales' home in the maiden name of his wife. Investigators later determined that Morales, who is now a bus driver for Hernando County schools, sent the e-mails when he would return home from his morning bus route and before he left on his afternoon route.

Morales was allegedly "targeting the two HCSO employees that were directly involved in his firing," the report said.

Smith was initially stunned when asked about the e-mails, Black said.

"He was mortified that someone was sending horrific e-mails via our system," Black said. "It caused him to have to feel defensive. He was the victim in this case."

Joel Anderson can be reached at or (352) 754-6120.

Fired Hernando County deputy charged with identity theft over e-mails 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 7:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando County Commission rejects plan for waste-to-energy plant

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — After several years of discussion, many hours of staff time trying to negotiate a contract and questions about viability, the Hernando County Commission this week voted unanimously to turn down a contract with Freedom Energy Hernando LLC and abandoned the idea of having the county spearhead a …

     Commissioner John Allocco made the motion to deny the contract to Freedom Energy.
  2. Lack of parking for boat trailers causing turmoil along Port Richey waterfront

    Local Government

    PORT RICHEY — As Memorial Day and the summer boating season approach, the city of Port Richey finds itself in turmoil over parking along the city's waterfront.

    Gill Dawg restaurant owner Erik Suojanen, standing on property he owns across from his business, discusses a notice of violation he received from the city for allowing parking there without a submitting a site plan to the city.
 [Photo by Robert Napper]
  3. Tampa court hearing rescheduled for accused neo-Nazi jihadist killer


    TAMPA — Attorneys for Devon Arthurs, the alleged former neo-Nazi turned jihadist accused of shooting to death his two roommates, have asked to reschedule a court hearing that had been set for Wednesday morning.

  4. Parent of struggling DeVry University is changing its name to Adtalem


    Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The company that owns one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains is changing its name.

    This 2009 photo shows the entrance to the DeVry University in Miramar, Fla. DeVry Education Group, which owns DeVry University, announced Wednesday that it will now be called Adtalem Global Education. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  5. NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump


    BRUSSELS — NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

    U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Fiumicino's Leonardo Da Vinci International airport, near Rome, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Trump is in Italy for a two day visit, including a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, ahead of his participation in a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. [Associated Press]