A federal judge has rejected a plea deal for former Tampa Police officer Eric Houston charged with conspiracy, theft and money laundering.
In a surprising move in court this morning, US District Judge Richard Lazarra recused himself from the case.
In a hearing scheduled for this morning, Houston was expected to plead to guilty to receiving, concealing or retaining stolen property of the United States. The charge carried a maximum sentenced of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Under the plea deal, the US Attorney's office the would dismiss the additional charges against Houston.
Eric Houston and his wife, LaJoyce Houston, also a former Tampa Police officer, were indicted in October 2015 on charges of identity theft, stealing tax refunds and using the money to pay off their credit card bills.
LaJoyce Houston's case is set for trial on May 1st.