On July 6, 2015, 36 year old Gabriel Christopher Morris of Tucson was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a jury in Pima County Superior Court found him guilty on a number of theft and forgery-related felonies. Mr. Morris is a career criminal who on May 1st, after a four day trial, was found guilty by a jury on 6 separate counts. The investigation, conducted by the Arizona Department of Insurance and subsequent trial, prosecuted by Assistant Arizona Attorney General Beverly Rudnick, uncovered a number of stolen and forged items in Mr. Morris’ possession. These included $21,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds which were stolen from a Tucson home in 2013, resulting in a conviction on a class three felony theft count.
The jury also found Morris guilty of five separate counts of Forgery, all class 4 felonies, after being found in the possession of forged items, including DirectTV and Tucson Electric Power customer refund checks. Morris was sentenced to 12 years in prison for each forgery count. Morris’ sentences for all counts will run concurrent, meaning he will serve 20 years in Arizona prison specifically for these crimes.
At the time of his arrest, Morris was impersonating a victim by the name of Abraham Fijal. Mr. Fijal remains unaware as to how his identity was stolen and has no relationship with Mr. Morris. Morris was finally caught after entering a GEICO Insurance office intending to pick up a fraudulent insurance check issued under Mr. Fijal’s name. As Morris entered the GEICO office, he noticed law enforcement officers present and attempted to exit and flee, but not before quickly being apprehended by the Tucson Police Department. Once he was arrested, a forged identification listing Mr. Fijal’s name but showing Morris’ photograph was found in Morris’ wallet.
While Morris was released on bond awaiting his trial, he absconded to California where he continued to commit new crimes. Morris recently pled “no contest” in Los Angeles County Superior Court to five felonies, including: Unlawful Possession of a Firearm; Having a Concealed Stolen Firearm on his Person; Second Degree Commercial Burglary; Identity Theft; and Unlawful Possession of Ammunition. When Morris was arrested in California, he was operating under the identity of “Cody Montagno.” In accordance with his plea agreement in California, Morris will serve an additional 16 months in prison after his Arizona sentences are up. Once Morris was taken into custody in California, he was extradited to Arizona to face trial on the charges for which he was sentenced on July 6.
Morris committed the crimes subject of this statement while he was on release conditions pending two more cases previously charged by the Pima County Attorney’s Office. As a result, Morris was additionally sentenced on four separate charges in Pima County, where he received prison sentences ranging from 5 to 13.5 years, all of which are to run concurrent to each other but consecutive to his 20-year sentence in the case prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office. This means that as a career criminal (who was previously in prison from 2002-2004 for Forgery and Theft and again in 2006-2009 for Attempted Possession of Marijuana for Sale and Attempted Possession of Narcotics for Sale, Cocaine Base) Morris will serve 60 total years in Arizona prison.