Ryan Romano, the former Wisconsin deputy charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer in a Taco Bell parking lot, was given one-year probation for the third-degree felony Tuesday.
Romano, 31, rejected the State’s offer, which would have adjudicated him guilty of the charge and sent him to jail for 6 months, followed by 2 years of probation, according to Assistant State Attorney Sonny McCathran.
Instead, Romano entered an open plea to Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. The judge accepted Romano’s plea of no contest and had his adjudication withheld. Romano is also required to have a mental health evaluation and seek treatment if a psychologist or counselor determines it necessary.
The former Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy — who resigned from the Kenosha County force on Dec. 31 — cut off a driver in the parking lot of Taco Bell on 11140 Spring Hill Drive back on Feb. 9. Romano flashed a law enforcement badge and ordered three individuals to get out of their vehicle so he could search it.
The three victims questioned if Romano was really a law enforcement officer, and Romano left the scene.
Romano was later found and taken into custody at Spring Haven Apartments, according to a Hernando County Sheriff’s Office affidavit.
Romano was originally booked on no-bond status. The man spent 18 days in jail before having his bond set at $5,000.
Assistant State Attorney Matthew Pila said Romano remembered the Taco Bell incident, but could not recall if he had identified himself as an officer.
Romano is eligible for early termination as soon as the plea requirements are met.
Romano told Merritt he intended to pay his $723 court costs that day for the charge that carries a five-year prison sentence or $5,000 maximum in fines.