Prison Warden Retired Under Investigation for Theft and Cover-up

The Mule Creek State Prison warden who abruptly retired last year had been placed on administrative leave while under investigation for alleged theft from a thrift store and attempting to cover it up, The Sacramento Bee reported March 10.

The Bee obtained a report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that said an investigation determined that former Warden Joe Lizarraga’s dishonesty, theft and “failure of good behavior” warranted firing.

Investigators said that in September 2018, Lizarraga removed price tags from items at Interfaith Food Bank Thrift Store in Sutter Creek and then suggested lower prices to the cashier. Sutter Creek police investigated, and Lizarraga lied to the police chief when he said he didn’t suggest prices, the report concluded.

The investigation also alleged that Lizarraga told the chief he purchased the equipment for his family when it was really for personal financial gain. Lizarraga later wrote a personal money order for $125 to dissuade a witness from participating in a criminal prosecution, and made another bribe attempt using charitable funds from the prison, the report said. (Source: The Sacramento Bee, March 10.)


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