FULLERTON — A trusted chemist at Cal State Fullerton was arrested at his university office Monday morning after state agents accused him of making the drug ecstasy in a lab on campus.
James Edward Lightner, 42, of Riverside had worked for nearly seven years as an institutional support technician, responsible for ordering, keeping track of and dispensing all chemicals and supplies for the university's chemistry department, said Judy Mandel, a university spokeswoman.
Gary Hudson, a supervisor with the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, said Lightner "was entrusted with all the chemicals and all the glassware. He took that trust and he ran with it."
Hudson said state agents first got a tip two weeks ago.
"We're not revealing the source because we use it too much," Hudson said.
On Wednesday, investigators began a stakeout of Lightner's office. They arrested him about 10:30 a.m. Monday, Hudson said.
Officers found half a gallon of the drug, equivalent to about 3,000 doses, worth about $30 each.
"The amount that he had was not for his own use," Hudson said. "Somewhere along the line, he had to have been selling."
Hudson said that in Lightner's lab, "he had the chemicals to make any legal or illegal drug he wanted," including LSD and methamphetamine.
The process to make ecstasy, a hallucinogen related to methamphetamine, takes about 36 hours, he said.
"All he does is set up the process and go home," Hudson said. "He was doing it on campus, so he had no fear that some snoopy police officer would catch him."
Few people had access to the four-room laboratory, Hudson said. It was not clear what the lab was supposed to have been used for. During the surveillance, investigators saw no one else in the lab unless Lightner also was with them, even janitors, he said.
Lightner was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing an illegal substance. He is being held in the Orange County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.