Employer charged with harboring alleged cop-killer

January 9, 2008 5:27:29 PM PST
The employer of a Mexican man accused of fatally shooting a Houston police officer has been arrested and charged with harboring an illegal immigrant, federal officials announced Wednesday. Robert Lane Camp, 47, the owner of a landscaping company, has been charged with encouraging Juan Leonardo Quintero-Perez, the accused killer of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson, to unlawfully enter the United States and with harboring him.

Camp, who was arrested Wednesday, was set to make his first appearance in federal court later in the day.

Each of the offenses Camp is accused of committing in a criminal complaint carry up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

"This prosecution demonstrates the consequences a U.S. citizen faces when he or she decides to harbor or assist an undocumented alien to enter the United States and to employ that alien unlawfully," U. S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle said in a statement. "The shooting of HPD Officer Johnson was a tragic incident that could have been avoided."

Jury selection in Quintero-Perez's capital murder trial is set for March 31. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

Quintero-Perez, a Mexican national, is accused of shooting Johnson four times in the head as the officer sat in his patrol car's front seat during a routine traffic stop. Police said Johnson, 40, was shot after Quintero-Perez pulled a gun from his waistband as he sat handcuffed in the back of the patrol car.

Johnson apparently missed the gun when he patted down Quintero, authorities said.

When Quintero-Perez was pulled over by Johnson, he was driving a company truck owned by Camp, authorities said.

According to a criminal complaint, Quintero-Perez was charged with the state felony offense of indecency with a child in 1998.

Camp allegedly posted his $10,000 bond and hired a defense attorney for him.

Quintero-Perez was deported in 1999 after being convicted. But later that year, he returned to the county illegally, with Camp buying him a plane ticket from Phoenix to Houston, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities, in the complaint, also allege that Quintero-Perez returned to work for Camp, who bought him a home that the illegal immigrant and his wife, Theresa Quintero, rented.

Theresa Quintero told authorities that Camp falsely listed her and not her husband as an employee of his landscaping company, according to the complaint.

After the shooting, Camp told Houston police that Quintero-Perez was one of his employees, but when questioned later by immigration authorities he denied the illegal immigrant ever worked for him, according to the complaint.

"Officer Rodney Johnson's terrible murder illustrates that hiring and harboring of illegal aliens is not a victimless crime," said Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in Houston.

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