Police: Fake officer crashes after chase

February 1, 2010 8:20:03 AM PST
We're learning more about a man who was taken into custody Sunday, accused of impersonating a police officer. He was arrested following a chase where speeds hit 100 miles per hour. Deputies tell us the man flashed a badge and had tried to pull drivers over. Investigators say he may be linked to a few robberies in east Houston.

Mario Nieto is charged with two counts of impersonating a police officer, evading arrest and theft of a firearm. The list of charges could get longer.

The chase ended with smoke rising from a Camaro and a man and woman in handcuffs. Sheriff's deputies said the driver was impersonating a police officer, flashing lights and a fake badge at drivers on the East Freeway early Sunday morning.

Deputies spotted the Camaro within about 15 minutes. After a brief chase reaching 100 miles an hour, the suspect crashed at Waco and East Freeway.

Investigators say Nieto could face even more charges. Detectives said he may be linked to a series of thefts and robberies in the Denver Harbor area.

"It does scare me a little bit," said Ed Oakes, who works in the area. "But we keep everything locked up at night, so hopefully we don't have any problems."

"You used to trust everyone. This was a good neighborhood," said Oscar San Miguel, a resident of the area. "And now, look, people dressed up as cops, people killing people, people robbing places. What's the point of it?"

People who live and work there are relieved to learn of the arrest.

"I'm glad they caught him because now they got another bad guy off the street," said San Miguel.

We learned Nieto has a criminal history dating back to 1985. According to court records, Nieto has previously faced charges of burglary, auto theft and evading arrest.

As for the woman in the Camaro with Nieto, there is no word yet on what charges she might face.