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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Monday, August 22, 2016

Former U.S. Probation Officer Pleads Guilty To Obstruction Of Investigation

HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Rachel Lynn Howze, age 30, Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty today before United States District Court Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner in Harrisburg, to obstructing an official federal proceeding while serving as a U.S. Probation Officer in Pittsburgh.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Howze, was charged, in a Criminal Information filed in June 2016 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, with attempting to obstruct, influence, and impede an investigation by intentionally disclosing to unauthorized persons the existence of a state criminal investigation involving an individual under federal supervised release.

Howze plead guilty pursuant to a plea agreement with the government which was subject to the approval of the court.  Howze is no longer employed by the U.S. Probation Office.

Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for November 28, 2016 before Chief Judge Conner.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, 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 is assigned to prosecute the case.

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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Updated August 22, 2016