Ex-Harris County deputy pleads guilty to using license plate scanner for wife’s game room operation

August 22, 2018

A former Harris County sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to using a license plates scanner to keep his wife’s alleged gambling operation underwraps, his lawyer confirmed Tuesday.

Former deputy Jose J. Ramirez entered a guilty plea on Monday - more than two years after his 2016 arrest- in a case where he had been facing a felony charge of misusing official information.

Ramirez’ defense attorney Doug Ahern said the deputy is slated for sentencing in mid-October. He offered no further comment on the plea.

The 28-year-old deputy was charged with using a scanner to check for undercover officers at the Airport Game Room his wife operated in a strip mall along the 9800 block of Gulf Freeway near the William P. Hobby Airport, according to Houston Chronicle archives.

A vice officer with the Houston Police Department went undercover to the game room in February 2016 and spoke to Ramirez’ wife, Karla Sandoval, according to a criminal complaint. She then sent her husband a text message asking him to scan the license plate of the officer’s vehicle.

Texas Department of Public Safety records show an identification number associated with Ramirez was used in February and April of that year to scan license plates for undercover cops, the complaint read.

The deputy’s wife again texted him in April asking him to check a plate because she believed another patron may have been “an undercover.” The game room utilized so-called “8-liner” wagering machines, which are lawful in Texas as long as prizes awarded are cheap, non-cash items.

Court documents show Ramirez admitted to using the scanner because he feared his wife would be robbed.

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