Merced County jail cook accused of supplying pot, phones to inmates

A 57-year-old Chowchilla man employed as a Merced County jail cook was arrested Thursday on suspicion of bringing marijuana and tobacco into the jail.

David Louis Mace was taken into custody by deputies at his home around 3 p.m. after a two-month investigation by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department’s Supervised Release Team, according to Deputy Delray Shelton, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

During the investigation deputies searched the kitchen area of the John Latorraca Correctional Center and found a half-pound of marijuana and tobacco. Shelton said many details about the case are still confidential, citing the ongoing investigation and personnel issues associated with it.

Deputies believe Mace had been bringing the contraband materials into the jail for at least two months. In addition to tobacco and marijuana, he is suspected of bringing cellphones into the jail and supplying the items to the inmates for their personal use. Shelton did not comment on whether Mace had been selling the items to the inmates.

Shelton said Sheriff Tom Cavallero and deputies approach violations within the department’s own ranks very seriously. He added that those kinds of cases will be investigated to the fullest extent. “We will police our own and will weed out any bad apples that directly impede upon our mission statement,” Shelton said.

Mace’s mug shot was not available at press time Thursday. He was booked at the jail on suspicion of bringing controlled substances into a correctional facility and allowing inmates to use controlled substances.

Mace has been a county employee since 2002. He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.