Ex-HPD officer accused of theft takes plea deal

January 17, 2012 3:21:41 PM PST
A former Houston police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to a charge of theft by a public servant.

Stefan Riha struck a deal with prosecutors so that he would change his plea in exchange for two years of probation, a $500 fine and 120 hours of community service. He also had to permanently surrender his peace officer's license.

Riha, 29, was arrested by undercover officers conducting a sting in May 2011 in the 3600 block of Fondren. Investigators say he made a traffic stop on an officer posing as a motorist, put that officer in the back of his patrol car while then pocketing $1,100 from inside the vehicle the undercover officer was driving.

"As a police officer, he betrayed the trust that comes with the badge by taking money that belongs to citizens. It was important to us that he no longer have that opportunity," said prosecutor Maritza Antu.

No one answered when we went to Riha's home Tuesday for comment. His attorney did not return calls.

Prosecutors say they targeted Riha in the undercover operation after receiving two other complaints that he had stolen money from motorists. Investigators have never found enough evidence to pursue charges in those cases.

Riha can never again work as a police officer and right now cannot posses a gun. He remains out of custody unless he violates probation. If he does, he can be sent to jail for up to two years.