Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office Employee Charged with Obstruction of Justice and Lying to the FBI
PITTSBURGH –A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
The two-count indictment, returned on July 24 and unsealed today following her arrest, named Erika Romanowski, 40, as the sole defendant.
According to the indictment, while employed as a clerk with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), Romanowski had access to sensitive law enforcement information, including information related to ongoing federal investigations with which ACSO assisted. As alleged, between in and around February 2018 and in and around April 2018, Romanowski disclosed non-public, sensitive law enforcement information to two personal associates, identified as Person A and Person B, in an effort to protect Person B from investigation and prosecution by federal authorities. According to the indictment, Person A and Person B were targets of an ongoing, multi-agency federal grand jury investigation focused on the criminal activities of a large-scale, violent drug trafficking organization operating in the West End neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Person B allegedly was a senior member of the drug trafficking organization.
The indictment further alleges that on or about June 20, 2018, during an interview with FBI Special Agents, Romanowski lied when she repeatedly denied ever disclosing sensitive law enforcement information to Person A or Person B.
"This indictment alleges that Erika Romanowski violated the public trust by leaking sensitive law enforcement information she learned while employed at the Sheriff’s Office, and then falsely denied making the disclosure when questioned by the FBI," stated U.S. Attorney Brady. "Every government employee with knowledge of a criminal investigation must maintain its confidentiality, whether or not they serve in a law enforcement capacity. Even more troubling, her actions could have jeopardized the safety of law enforcement officers. Corruption regardless of station will be prosecuted."
"It's important for the public to know the FBI works closely with our law enforcement partners in Western Pennsylvania to ensure public servants who violate the trust placed in them by the public will be aggressively pursued and held accountable for their actions," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chad Yarbrough.
Romanowski faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the obstruction of justice charge and a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the false statements charge. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case, with the full cooperation and assistance of the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office. This prosecution is part of the U.S. Attorney’s public corruption initiative.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.