SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department has announced the arrest of a state hospital police officer on narcotics and weapons charges.
Authorities say Leonel Lazaro works at the Atascadero state hospital as a police officer. He was arrested late Monday afternoon in Santa Maria near the intersection of College and Park. The 36 year old Lazaro is from Santa Maria.
Lazaro was booked at Santa Barbara County jail for selling a firearm to a prohibited person (felony), possession of a firearm while addicted to narcotics (felony), conspiracy (felony), embezzlement (felony), and providing ammunition to a prohibited person (misdemeanor). Lazaro has since been released on $35,000 bail.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department obtained a Ramey warrant to make the arrest. A Ramey warrant issued by a judge or magistrate before a prosecutor has filed formal charges, which is what normally happens before an arrest warrant is issued. The Sheriff's Department says the Ramey warrant was issued based on an ongoing investigation led by detectives from the Special Investigation Bureau.
The Atascadero State Hospital is one of five in California that provides treatment of patients who are mentally ill. There are about 700 police officers with the Department of State Hospitals. Their job is to provide safety, service and security to the 6,300 patients and 11,000 employees in the state hospital system.