HISD officer charged with extortion in alleged vehicle towing scheme
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- There are allegations of shocking betrayal of the public's trust. A Houston ISD police officer is being accused of using his authority to rip people off.
The arrest came after an undercover sting. The justice department accuses Houston ISD police Richard Cano, 46, of preying on immigrants, people unlikely to rat him out.
That HISD police officer was relieved of duty Wednesday because of this allege extortion scheme. He's accused of having peoples cars towed and pocketing part of the money for himself.
The school district says Cano patrols the west side. But federal agents claim Cano was busy doing something else while in uniform. They say the officer was stealing from some drivers he pulled over.
"It's sad. It's sad," concerned driver Carmekia Everage said.
Parents we talked to across HISD say they're outraged by the alleged extortion scheme. Federal agents working undercover say officer Cano pulled over several drivers this month and had their vehicles towed. But then he allegedly would meet up with the tow driver and split the tow fees.
"It think that's real bad, very bad," concerned driver Chris Jacobs said.
Investigators say officer Cano picked on drivers from Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras who were unlikely to complain. Agents say in each case Cano never filed charges against any of the drivers he had towed.
"You telling the kids to do one thing, but you're doing another thing? What are the kids supposed to believe? That's why a lot of people and a lot of kids don't trust officers now," concerned parent Delicia Johnson said.
HISD released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying:
- "The HISD Police Department fully cooperated with the investigation that led to Tuesday's arrest of Officer Richard M. Cano on a federal extortion charge. The officer has not been convicted of a crime. If proven true, the allegations in this case constitute a breach of the public trust that we take seriously. While we condemn this sort of alleged activity, the actions of one police officer in no way reflect on the character and professionalism of the 200 law enforcement officers in the HISD police department. Each day, these officers dutifully and honorably protect the 200,000 students, 30,000 employees, and countless parents and community members involved on a daily basis in this district's 279 schools. I want to thank the FBI, Texas Rangers, the Houston Police Department, the HISD Police Internal Affairs Division, and other agencies that worked on this case. We will use this case as an opportunity to ensure that we have strong policies and procedures in place to protect the public."
We found out officer Cano's worked for Houston ISD police for 18 years. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
houston isd, local, demond fernandez
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