Friday, June 22, 2018
Public safety

Ex-Wisconsin officer held in Hernando after confrontation at Taco Bell

SPRING HILL — Angry at another motorist in a Taco Bell parking lot, Ryan Romano flashed a badge, authorities say.

The problem: Romano resigned in December from his job as a sheriff's deputy in Kenosha County, Wis.

Romano, 31, was arrested later Saturday and charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer. He was held without bail Monday at the Hernando County Detention Center, in part because Hernando investigators were told he threatened law enforcement officers at the time of his departure from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department, according to a Hernando Sheriff's Office arrest report.

The report and a news release give this account:

Romano was driving a Chevrolet Silverado 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 to get 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.

Later, deputies responded to Spring Haven Apartments after receiving calls about two men impersonating law enforcement officers.

Deputies didn't find the caller, but Romano and his passenger were there.

The passenger reported 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 retired from his job in Wisconsin on Dec. 31.

Hernando investigators were then told Romano had been fired about a week before Saturday's incident and had "made threats to harm law enforcement."

Sgt. Bill Beth, spokesman for the Kenosha Sheriff's Department, told the Times on Monday that one of the department's sergeants gave Hernando officials incorrect information.

Romano resigned effective Dec. 15, Beth said. Romano, who started with the department in 2007, was moved from road patrol to administrative duty last August, Beth said. He declined to comment on the circumstances of the reassignment and resignation.

As for the reported threats toward law enforcement, Beth said those were rumors that had not been confirmed, but might have been relayed to Hernando authorities as a precaution.

Reach Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431.

Comments
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Updated: 9 hours ago
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Updated: 9 hours ago
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Updated: 11 hours ago
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

A 28-year-old cheerleading coach faces charges for engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Victor Martin Valenty faces 10 counts of traveling to meet a minor, distributing ob...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership. Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, o...
Published: 06/21/18
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Published: 06/21/18
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyr-hills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he did ...
Published: 06/21/18
Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

TAMPA — To his friends and neighbors at Tampa Baptist Manor, Norman Lester Porterfield was the man who fed and spoiled Lucky, the scruffy stray calico cat in the back yard. To his friends and coworkers at the Salvation Army, he was a great athlete, a...
Published: 06/21/18