Former U.S. Probation Officer Charged With Obstruction Of Investigation
HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Criminal Information was filed today in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh charging Rachel Lynn Howze with obstructing an official federal proceeding while serving as a U.S. Probation Officer in Pittsburgh.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Howze, age 30, Pittsburgh, attempted to obstruct and impede an investigation of an individual serving a term of federal supervised release. Howze allegedly attempted to obstruct an investigation by intentionally disclosing to unauthorized persons the existence of a state criminal investigation involving the individual under federal supervision.
Together with the Criminal Information, the government filed a plea agreement in the case which is subject to the approval of the court. Howze is no longer employed by the U.S. Probation Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which would otherwise be prosecuting the case, is recused under U.S. Department of Justice policy because the defendant was an employee under the supervision of the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh at the time of the alleged activity.
This investigation was conducted by the Pittsburgh Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph J. Terz has been assigned to prosecute the case.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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