A former Orange County sheriff’s deputy has been indicted by a grand jury for allegedly breaking into the home of a Yorba Linda man he found dead during a welfare check and returning several times, including once while on duty and in uniform, to steal guns and other items.

Steve Hortz, 42, of San Dimas, was indicted Monday on two counts of grand theft of a firearm and three counts of second-degree burglary, according to Kimberly Edds, a spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The 12-year veteran is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 26.

Hortz, who could face up to four years and four months in prison if convicted as charged, resigned Sept. 30 as he was faced with being fired, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Hortz’s attorney, Shaheen Manshoory, said it was his client’s “intent and desire to allow the process to play out in court.”

“Every defendant is presumed innocent under the law. I remind the citizens of Orange County that Mr. Hortz has honorably served them and protected them for 10-plus years,” he said. “In fact, Mr. Hortz was awarded the Medal of Courage and Medal for Lifesaving, along with many other awards and medals during his tenure.”

Hortz initially went to the home with two other deputies on July 20 to conduct a welfare check and found the homeowner dead of what was later confirmed as natural causes. The resident was in his 70s, according to Sheriff Don Barnes.

Hortz allegedly returned to the Via Angelina Drive home July 27 in uniform while on duty and broke in. At that time, he left the door open to return to the residence later, Barnes alleged.

Hortz allegedly returned to the house two more times — on Aug. 10 and Aug. 16 — and took two safes, two ceiling fans, a rifle case and a rifle.

“He has embarrassed this profession,” Barnes told reporters in September as he vowed to try to put Hortz on leave without pay.

In early September, the deceased man’s family realized the goods were missing and called the sheriff’s department to report the thefts, the sheriff said. On Sept. 9, an attorney for the family showed sheriff’s investigators home surveillance video that allegedly shows Hortz taking the property, Barnes said.

“I cannot tell you how disappointed I am,” the sheriff said then. “I also want to apologize to the family of the deceased.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he was “so angry and beyond disappointed” in the defendant.

“This act in and of itself has done so much damage to the public perception of law enforcement and the timing could not be more detrimental,” Spitzer said. “The community must be able to trust those who wear the badge and have complete confidence that they are there to protect and serve the community rather than exploit that trust to rob the very people they are sworn to safeguard.”

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