Five Houston police officers charged in July with soliciting bribes from cantina owners have been fired for failing to cooperate with an internal affairs investigation, reports the Houston Chronicle. The officers, who had been on paid suspension, are expected to appeal. The five will stand trial in March on charges of soliciting money from owners of cantinas in exchange for warnings of upcoming raids and overlooking illegal activity.
Attorneys for the men say their clients did nothing more than work extra jobs at cantinas. Houston Police Department does not prohibit officers from being paid in cash by bar owners. Defense attorney Robert Scardino said that the department’s outside employment policy is likely to be an integral part of the defense. “We’re unique in comparable cities about how police officers can work extra jobs and Houston, like most of its other rules, has been wide open on that historically,” he said. “Users pay, like a toll booth, and Houston has allowed for that, and it has been a tradition here.”
The Chronicle has reported that Houston was the largest city in the country that permits police officers to work extra jobs inside bars.