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We’ve uncovered new information regarding the federal investigation of a former Tampa Police detective.
Eric Houston is being investigated for his possible role in identity theft and tax fraud. The case involves some of the victims in death cases he investigated.
“It was a sad time for everyone when I preached at her funeral,” said Pastor Ruby Baker, describing the sadness that came when her great niece, Daralyn Anderson, died last year.
“There was always a smile, a ‘Hey Aunt Ruby,’ a hug, a kiss,” Baker said.
Anderson worked for the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court Office for years before the family says health issues led to her eventual addiction to painkillers.
Learn more about the allegations Eric Houston faces with this interactive timeline:
She overdosed and died at a car wash on North Armenia Avenue in March 2013.
“I was just shocked. I couldn't believe it,” Baker said.
The I-Team has determined the initials "D.A." in a federal search warrant application are Anderson's, based on other information in the document, a coroner's report and a request for the original police report.
That request was denied by Tampa Police Department since it's now part of a federal investigation.
The I-Team spoke to Anderson's mother, who didn’t want to do an on-camera interview.
She told us that form Det. Eric Houston was the officer who came to her house, showed her Daralyn’s identification card and told her that she had died.
Her mother said that a few months later, a different investigator came by the house, told her that her daughter's identity had been stolen and urged her not to tell anyone.
The I-Team informed the family that Houston was being investigated for the fraud.
“You've got to be joking! Oh my God!” Baker said when we brought her the news.
The search warrant application claims Houston was working with his wife, LaJoyce Houston, a former TPD officer who was arrested and fired earlier this year for alleged EBT card fraud.
The document says that in one month the Houstons deposited $13,000 into their credit union account.
Eric Houston was fired in April.
“It's beyond disheartening to learn that a seasoned detective is capable of criminal wrongdoing,” said Police Chief Jane Castor at that time.
We tried to talk to him on the day federal agents searched his home last month.
“It's just ongoing. They haven't said anything more,” said Houston, who said the feds didn’t tell him what they were looking for.
According to the search warrant application, Rita Girven, a confidential informant, convicted felon and biological mother of the Houstons' adopted daughter, filed at least 97 fraudulent tax returns from the same computer, claiming nearly $900,000 in tax refunds that were sent on debit cards to her apartment.
A federal grand jury is now hearing evidence in the case. They are expected to continue their investigation until Labor Day.