A married Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputy being investigated for an improper relationship with a former jail inmate resigned before any sanctions were handed down from an internal investigation.
Former detention deputy Jason Romano was the subject of an Internal Affairs probe, which accused him of breaking several sheriff’s office policies due to his relationship with registered felon Katelynn Hume.
His resignation became official Feb. 1, a little more than four years after he began his career with the sheriff’s office.
Among the accusations, Romano is accused of associating with a felon after Hume, 23, was released from the Land O’ Lakes Jail and having an intimate relationship with her.
Because of Romano’s resignation, no further action will be taken in the investigation, which began in November.
Investigators say Romano, whose age was not released by the sheriff’s office, sent Hume photos of his privates in addition to photos of himself shirtless. The department’s investigators were also looking into allegations of preferential treatment Hume received from Romano.
Romano is also accused of violating the agency’s order that prohibits the posting of any agency uniforms, patches, badges, logos or vehicles on a social media site or blog. Romano broke that rule when he posted a photo of his sheriff’s office badge, his Glock handgun and a single, hollow point bullet on his Facebook page in 2010, authorities said.
Hume told investigators she first met Romano sometime between 2004 and 2006 when he was employed by Best Buy. Romano worked with Hume’s father and the extent of their interactions was exchanging pleasantries when she visited her father at the store.
During Hume’s second of five stints inside the Land O’ Lakes Jail, she was moved from the jail’s medical wing to the general population. At some point during that second incarceration from April to June 2009, Hume spotted Romano and yelled, “Jason!”
Romano and another detention deputy brought Hume to a vestibule area and informed Hume she was not to refer to deputies by their first name and was not to behave as though she knew any deputy, according to a report.
Hume told investigators she often “hung out” at the deputies desk inside the jail with Romano as he relieved other deputies for their breaks. She said he encouraged her to do better with her life and to stay out of trouble.
Shortly after her release, she got Romano’s cellphone number from her father and began texting him, she said. The two were planning to travel to Countryside Mall in Clearwater together, but that trip ended after she informed Romano she was not to leave Pasco County due to her probation.
Romano denied that trip ever took place.
Hume’s legal trouble began in December 2008 when she spent three days in jail for dealing in stolen property. She was arrested again on April 9, 2009, charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and two counts of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
On July 14, 2010, and Sept. 7, 2011, she was arrested on violation of probation warrants. Her final arrest came last year on Nov. 30 — one day after visiting the sheriff’s Internal Affairs office — charged with driving under the influence and three counts of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Hume told investigators during her September 2011 to November 2011 lockup that she began to get preferential treatment from Romano. She told investigators she was allowed to sit at the deputies desk and talk while other inmates worked. She said that’s when Romano began giving her Starburst candy, chewing gum, extra razors, slices of pizza and cups of ice.
A deposit of $100 was made to her detention center account, but there was no tie to Romano, according to the investigation.
Romano denied that he gave Hume preferential treatment or that he deposited money in her account.
“I would find that very difficult to hide from my wife considering $100 would make or break us,” Romano said in the report. “So, no, never happened.”
During a Jan. 2 interview with internal affairs, Romano said he never dated Hume.
The report said the relationship between the two turned sexual after Hume was released in November 2011.
The two met in a Walmart parking lot on Sept. 29, 2012. Hume said they only kissed while sitting inside Romano’s Kia Optima. Romano said it was Hume who leaned in to kiss him and he refused to do so.
That day, Romano told his wife he was going to the store to get milk.
“We had not had intercourse before,” Hume said in the report, “but we had other physical relations and he would always tell me he felt sorry. Like, that he was doing something wrong against his wife after that.”
On Oct. 2, the pair went to World of Beer in Land O’ Lakes, but couldn’t go inside because Hume left her identification at her New Port Richey home. During the drive back, Hume performed oral sex on Romano, the report said. He told investigators he pushed her away five minutes into the act.
Romano said Hume began to slur her words and eventually passed out. That was the last time the pair met in person. Romano also deleted Hume as a friend from Facebook, the report said.
“That night we were in the car, it seemed like she was under the influence of something,” Romano told investigators. “And I didn’t want to associate with her because of that. So, I mean, you know, with the job that I do, I didn’t want to be anywhere near somebody who’s, you know, partaking in drugs and things like that.”