16 State Firefighters Put on Leave over Sex, Lies and Missing Videotape

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Orville Fleming

A manhunt in May for a 56-year-old fugitive state fire battalion chief suspected of murdering his young girlfriend, a paid escort, has led to 16 employees at the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (Cal Fire) academy being put on administrative leave.

The suspensions with pay were made after the California Highway Patrol (CHP) delivered a preliminary report on their follow-up to an accusation by Orville “Moe” Fleming’s estranged wife, Meagan, that she had seen a tape of firefighters and prostitutes having sex on fire trucks at the Cal Fire Academy near Sacramento.

She told KSFN-TV in Fresno in May that her husband’s girlfriend tried to shake her down in front of her son and daughter and said to her, “If your husband doesn’t pay, your husband is going to go to jail and I have a sex tape of him being at the academy with firemen.”

She was pretty adamant about what she saw. “Sarah Douglas with other firemen and him. Having sex,” Fleming said. “Sex on a fire truck. Sex on a fire truck …With … with, with firemen and I know it was her, her, she was there.”

The CHP did not find a tape and Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant told the Sacramento Bee they didn’t think one existed, which doesn’t mean the book is closed on whether there was sex on fire trucks with prostitutes. “That’s something we are waiting for,” he said.  

The CHP, however, did dig up enough stuff to convince Cal Fire to send the 16 home. A Cal Fire spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that most of the employees were, like Fleming, teachers at the academy. Their transgressions, reportedly, are not related to the sex allegations.

A final report is expected early next month.

Fleming was the object of an intense two-week manhunt after being accused of stabbing 26-year-old Sarah Douglas to death in South Sacramento on May 1. They met two years before and were living together at the time of her death. Douglas’ sister said she was on the phone to Douglas when what sounded like an assault occurred. She died and Fleming fled.

Five days after the murder, Cal Fire fired Fleming in absentia. The agency said it was because he failed to show up for work for five days, not because he was up to his ears in murder and sexual intrigue.    

It was suspected that Fleming, who had extensive outdoor skills and knew the Sierra, Santa Cruz mountains and the Yosemite Valley, had headed for the hinterland would he could live off the land and stay under the radar. It turned out he hadn’t fled far and was living in brush close to where he had abandoned his pickup truck in the Sacramento area.      

Fleming pleaded not guilty to murder in October.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Cal Fire Puts 16 Workers on Leave amid Sex Probe (by Laurel Rosenhall, Sacramento Bee)

16 Cal Fire Workers Put on Leave amid Sex Allegations (by Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle)

16 California Firefighters Put on Leave in Sexual Misconduct Investigation (by Don Thompson, Associated Press)

16 State Firefighters Placed on Paid Leave amid Investigation (by Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times)

A Sex Tape Investigation Leads to Administrative Leave for 16 California Firefighters (by Elahe Izadi, Washington Post)

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