Sunday, December 17, 2017
Public safety

Pasco County deputy loses job over affair

LAND O'LAKES — He was a young detention deputy. She had just been arrested.

Katelynn Hume, 19, saw him across the jail pod. She saw a "J'' on his nametag and told a fellow inmate she thought she knew him. She gave his name to the other woman.

"Jason!'' the inmate yelled.

Deputy Jason Romano, 28, whipped around. He and another deputy pulled Hume into a vestibule and told her that inmates are never to refer to deputies by their full names. Though she knew him several years ago when he and her father were friends and co-workers at Best Buy, she wasn't supposed to act like it.

But Hume kept landing in the jail over the next two years on a handful of charges. They got to know each other better through conversations at the deputy's desk in her jail pod, she would later tell investigators. The talks started out motivational with him "encouraging her to do better in life and to stay out of trouble," a report states. Later, it would turn into something else.

Hume knew Romano was married. She was a registered felon, which by Pasco Sheriff's Office policy made her off-limits. Still, they met up. Last month, it cost Romano his job.

An internal affairs investigation report paints a picture of a scorned lover. In November, after Romano stopped contacting her, Hume went to the Sheriff's Office and told investigators a story about her "Fifty Shades of Grey type relationship" with the deputy. She delivered to investigators, among other things, cell phone photos she said Romano sent her of his privates.

The investigators were familiar with Hume. She had been arrested in Pasco five times on charges of burglary, possession of a controlled substance and later violations of her probation.

Her first arrest was April 9, 2009. When she got out in June, she contacted Romano and they went to the Countryside mall, according to the report. She landed in jail the second time in September 2011. She said Romano gave her special treatment — extra razors, chewing gum, Starburst candies, cups of ice and slices of pizza and deposited $100 into her jail account.

They met again sometime after she was released on Nov. 17, 2011. In August or September 2012, he sent the photos of himself, the report said. They met for two hours in a Walmart parking lot while Romano told his wife he was out to buy milk. She said that on Oct. 2, they had oral sex while Romano was driving his personal car, the report states.

On Oct. 30, Romano sent her a message on Facebook after deleting her from his friends list. "I had to take u off Facebook because of work it's nothing against you."

Less than a month later, Hume showed the message to the internal affairs investigators along with a text conversation in which Romano said he had done nothing wrong and had nothing to hide.

Romano met with the investigators in January. He confirmed most of what Hume told them, but denied ever giving her snacks or depositing $100 in her jail account.

The investigators concluded that Romano violated the policy that forbids associating with criminals. They said Romano also posted photos on Facebook of his Sheriff's Office badge, gun and magazine and a single hollow-point bullet, a violation of another order. Both are fireable offenses.

The third allegation of preferential treatment, the money order and the snacks was labeled unfounded.

Romano resigned from the agency in February during the investigation.

Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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