Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-deputy who confronted motorist in parking lot incident gets probation

BROOKSVILLE — A former Wisconsin sheriff's deputy accused of flashing a badge in a Taco Bell parking lot earlier this year will avoid jail time.

Ryan Romano, 31, pleaded no contest Tuesday to a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer. Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. withheld adjudication and gave Romano a year of probation. Merritt also ordered Romano to undergo a mental health evaluation.

"I think it's appropriate for someone with no criminal record," defense attorney Peyton Hyslop said Wednesday.

Prosecutors had asked Merritt to find Romano guilty and sentence him to six months in jail, followed by two years of probation. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.

According to the Hernando Sheriff's Office, Romano was driving a Chevrolet Silverado on Feb. 9 when he got angry at another motorist who was trying to turn around in the parking lot of the restaurant at 11140 Spring Hill Drive. Romano, who had a male passenger with him, maneuvered his truck to block the other driver's path, got out and identified himself as a law enforcement officer. He showed a badge and ordered the occupants out of the vehicle.

Suspicious of Romano, they refused. When Romano threatened to arrest them, a man in the other vehicle said he was going to call 911. Romano got back in his truck and drove away.

Romano's passenger told deputies later that Romano had gotten into an argument with another motorist at Taco Bell and flashed a deputy's badge. Romano admitted that he asked for the driver's identification, but denied that he identified himself as an officer. He told authorities he had retired from his job as a deputy with the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin on Dec. 31.

Investigators found a badge in the truck at the time of his arrest, Hyslop said.

A spokesman for the Kenosha Sheriff's Department told the Times after Romano's arrest that he started with the department in 2007, was moved from road patrol to administrative duty last August, and then resigned effective Dec. 15. The spokesman declined to comment on the circumstances of the reassignment and resignation.

Merritt noted before the sentencing that reports of Romano threatening law enforcement officers about the time of his departure from Kenosha turned out to be unfounded.

Romano paid $723 in fines and court costs. He was visiting Spring Hill at the time of his arrest and plans to return to Wisconsin, Hyslop said.

Ex-deputy who confronted motorist in parking lot incident gets probation 03/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  2. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  3. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings
  4. St. Petersburg council sets millage rate in first budget hearing

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council set the millage rate and gave initial approval to Mayor Rick Kriseman's $538 million budget at Thursday night's hearing.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. How many more people would lack coverage under Cassidy-Graham? We can guess


    WASHINGTON — It's safe to say the new Obamacare rollback measure toward which the Senate is charging would mean fewer Americans have health coverage. Exactly how many is unclear. Some argue it could be more than 22 million people. Others say it could be fewer.