A recently hired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recruit has been arrested in connection with incidences of theft and arson that occurred last year in the Santa Clarita area, officials said Wednesday.
Julio Cesar Jimenez was arrested Feb. 15 on suspicion of felony arson, grand theft and embezzlement amid his training at the Sheriff’s Academy, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Jimenez allegedly committed the crimes weeks before he joined the Sheriff’s Department. His employment has since been terminated, officials said.
“These allegations conflict with the highest ethical and professional standards required for employment with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” the statement read.
The 35-year-old Santa Clarita resident was hired as a cadet on Dec. 14, 2017, and began training four days later, on Dec. 18, authorities said.
He is accused of robbing an ATM in Newhall on Nov. 28, 2017, and in an incidence of arson on Dec. 1. Sheriff’s officials did not say what he is suspected of setting fire to.
A total of $120,000 was stolen from the ATM, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Authorities believe he committed the acts after the Sheriff’s Department had completed his background investigation. Only about 5 percent of applicants make it through the “extensive” investigation process and are admitted to the training academy, according to the department.
But according to the Times, the agency has been criticized over its hiring standards in the past, especially after it brought on deputies who had misfired their weapons, engaged in sex at work and solicited prostitutes with another police force in 2010.
Last April, the newspaper reported that the Sheriff’s Department doled out nearly $51 million to resolve legal claims over the past five years.
Jimenez had been employed as a cadet for about two months at the time of his arrest. Sheriff’s officials said he was in the initial phase of the department’s 22-week training program when they began investigating his potential involvement in the incidents, but did not provide an exact date.
Jimenez was initially booked at the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station following his arrest but was released on bail later the same day. Inmate records indicate his bond had been set at $50,000.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office had not announced any formal charges in the case as of Wednesday.