Richard Cano: HISD Cop Ran Tow-Truck Scam, Prosecutors Say (UPDATED)

Photo by HISD
Richard Cano, burnishing the image of cops & tow-truck drivers.
A Houston school-district cop has been charged with fraud after federal prosecutors say he worked with tow-truck companies to improperly impound vehicles and then split the fee drivers paid to get the vehicles back.

Richard Cano, 46, faces charges of extortion under color of official right and was arrested last night. He faces up to 20 years.

The scheme wasn't too involved, but it was efficient, if what the feds say is true:

Cano allegedly stopped individuals on public streets and would then have the vehicle towed without further law enforcement action. According to the complaint, Cano would then meet with the tow truck driver and split the towing fee.

We've asked HISD for further details on Cano and will update when we get them.

Update: HISD has issued a statement.

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.

Cano has worked for HISD for 18 years, "as a patrol officer for the past few years," the district says. "He was most recently assigned to patrol duty on the district's west side."

Update II: Cano "has been relieved of duty with pay, pending further action," HISD says.

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