July 18, 2008

Pizzeria owner faces deportation

Friday, Jul. 18, 2008


The owner of a local pizzeria faces deportation after Keller police found he had obtained a state-issued driver’s license by using his brother’s identity.

Renee Vazquez, a Mexican citizen who owns Little Joe’s Famous Chicago Pizzeria in Keller, was arrested this month on fraud- and drug-related charges when police discovered that his license contained false information and that he was in the country illegally, police spokeswoman Lt. Brenda Slovak said.

"He had a Texas driver’s license with his picture but his brother’s information," Slovak said. "Jailers got suspicious because he was not making eye contact" and confirmed with federal immigration officials that Vazquez had entered the country illegally.

Vazquez’s brother, who also works at Little Joe’s, did not return a message left at the restaurant, 104 Navajo Drive. Vazquez was unavailable for comment.

Vazquez, 39, was arrested at about 8:40 a.m. July 1 during a traffic stop on Keller Parkway near Rufe Snow Drive. He was pulled over for not signaling a turn when police found 85 tablets of a prescription anti-anxiety drug, Slovak said.

Meanwhile, a detective investigating an identity theft complaint against Vazquez filed by his brother, Martin Vazquez, heard officers reporting the arrest over the radio. The detective searched jail records, which revealed Vazquez provided the fraudulent license when he was arrested May 29.

In that incident, Vazquez was charged with credit card abuse after a woman told police about $600 had been charged to her card over six transactions at different Keller stores after she left it at Vazquez’s restaurant, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Vazquez is also accused of stealing two $75 flower pots from Manny G’s, 444 Keller Parkway, overnight May 19. The theft was captured by the restaurant’s security cameras, Slovak said. The restaurant installed cameras after several hundred dollars’ worth of other items had been stolen in three similar incidents last year, she said. Those cases were closed because of a lack of evidence.

Vazquez was transferred to Tarrant County jail, where he remained Tuesday in lieu of a $9,500 bond. He is charged with the state jail felonies fraudulent use of identifying information and credit card abuse. Each is punishable by 180 days to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

He is also charged with possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years and a $10,000 fine.

If he posts bond, he would be released to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Carl Rusnook, a spokesman in the agency’s Dallas office. The agency would require Vazquez, if convicted, to serve any sentence before being deported, Rusnook said.

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