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Santa Rosa Junior College employee on paid leave following drug bust

A Santa Rosa Junior College employee who was arrested Monday on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine for sale has been placed on paid administrative leave from her job, a school spokeswoman said.

Police arrested Hilleary Zarate at her Santa Rosa home on Elk Lane after a search of the residence turned up 8 ounces of suspected meth, packaging, digital scales, cell phones and cash, authorities said.

Zarate, 44, has worked at SRJC since 2005, according to school spokeswoman Erin Bricker. She has held various roles during her 17 years with the college and was most recently named manager of student support and district ombudsperson, Bricker said.

Zarate has been placed on leave “until further notice” while her case goes through the legal process, Bricker said.

Press Democrat efforts to reach Zarate for comment on Tuesday were not successful.

Zarate’s arrest was part of a Santa Rosa Police Department drug trafficking investigation which also led to the arrest on Monday of Rey David Garcia, 42, who police believe is Zarate’s boyfriend.

Investigators found 3.5 pounds of suspected meth and 2.5 pounds of suspected cocaine at Garcia’s home in Santa Rosa. He is suspected of possessing meth and cocaine for sale, possessing brass knuckles and probation violation.

At Zarate’s home, police also found a 9 mm gun with no serial number that they said belonged to Zarate’s 20-year-old son, Darrick Zarate, who was arrested on suspicion of probation violation.

A Santa Rosa Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Chris Mahurin, declined to say what prompted the investigation. He said police do not have any evidence of Zarate or Garcia selling drugs at SRJC and the investigation was not related to Zarate’s employment.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

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