Former O.C. deputy charged with obstruction in lobster poaching incident

A former Orange County sheriff's deputy has been charged with obstructing a state game warden for allegedly falsely telling him that an off-duty deputy about to be cited for poaching lobsters was a confidential informant and for asking that he not be punished.

Prosecutors say Phillip Glenn Romero, 39, who was on duty at the time, made up the story about Deputy William Robb while Robb was being questioned by a California Department of Fish and Game officer. The game officer stopped Robb and two other off-duty sheriff's deputies on Nov. 18 after they pulled their boat up to a launch ramp at Dana Point Harbor.

Romero allegedly pretended that none of the men were deputies and told the game officer that he didn't want Robb identified in front of the two others because he was an informant.

The game warden agreed and didn't cite Robb. But in following up on the case, he discovered that Robb was a deputy and reported the incident to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Romero is charged with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor. Robb is charged with possessing 13 undersized lobsters, also a misdemeanor.

If convicted, each could face a year in jail.

Romero left the Sheriff's Department in May, and Robb is still employed, a department spokesman said Wednesday. He declined to elaborate on any disciplinary actions, citing the California Peace Officers Bill of Rights, which shields law enforcement officers' records from public scrutiny.


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