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Justice News

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Former U.S. Probation Officer Sentenced For Obstruction Of Investigation

HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that United States District Court Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner sentenced Rachel Lynn Howze, age 30, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a split sentence of five months’ imprisonment and five months’ home confinement for obstructing an official federal proceeding while serving as a U.S. Probation Officer in Pittsburgh.


According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Howze was charged in a criminal information filed in June 2016, 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, while employed as a Federal Probation Officer in the Western District of Pennsylvania, used her position to access confidential computer files related to an ongoing state heroin trafficking investigation. The individual cooperating with state law enforcement and the target of the state investigation were both under federal supervised release and the federal probation office possessed information about the state investigation in its system of records. Howze alerted the target’s sister about the existence of the criminal investigation. Based on the information Howze provided, the target and his accomplices were able to identify the informant and agreed that the informant “had to go.”


Howze is no longer employed by the U.S. Probation Office.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania prosecuted the case because the defendant was an employee under the supervision of the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh at the time of the criminal activity.


This investigation was conducted by the Pittsburgh Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph J. Terz prosecuted the case.


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Updated January 19, 2017