A former Houston Police Department officer was arrested Monday night and faces three charges, including extortion, related to his alleged involvement in an multi-million dollar armored car robbery in Houston two years ago, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Joel Quezada, 33, faces up to 20 years in prison after allegedly accepting money to monitor his police radio while armed thieves robbed a Loomis armored car at the University of Houston Student Center in December, 2013.
According to an older press release, four men approached the truck and forced the pregnant driver out at gun point. The truck's other driver, who had been inside filling an ATM, came outside and shot at the truck as the robbers tore off in it. The four suspects were eventually caught, arrested and charged. But Quezada was a free man until Monday night.
According to the press release, Quezada is charged with extortion, making false statements to federal agents, and concealing facts from federal agents.
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This is not Quezada's first incident of alleged misconduct. In January, the Houston Chronicle reported that Quezada's mishandling of a drunk driver's blood test in October 2013 directly resulted in the charges against the driver being dropped. When that story came out, Quezada had already been relieved of his duty with pay due to an internal affairs investigation into his alleged involvement in the robbery, KPRC reported. Quezada had been with HPD as a traffic cop for six years.
In June, the Associated Press reported that Houston is statistically the country's capital for armored car and bank robberies, though it isn't clear why.
"We've looked at the data, studied the data," Carlos Barron, assistant special agent in charge of the Houston FBI office, told the AP. "I don't think we've extracted any trends."
Quezada was scheduled to appear in court this week. In addition to a lengthy prison term, he also faces up to $500,000 in fines if convicted.