Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
August 26, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTY CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTING FISH AND GAME WARDEN IN ILLEGAL LOBSTER POACHING CASE BY FALSELY CLAIMING OFF-DUTY DEPUTY WAS A CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT
*Co-defendant off-duty deputy charged with illegally fishing for undersized lobsters
SANTA ANA – An Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputy has been charged with falsely claiming an off-duty officer was a confidential informant and using his law enforcement position to protect his friend from being cited by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) for illegal lobster poaching. The off-duty deputy has been charged with violating lobster fishing laws. Deputy Phillip Glenn Romero, 39, is charged with one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer. Deputy William Robb, 39, is charged with one misdemeanor count each of possessing an excessive number of spiny lobsters and possessing undersized spiny lobsters. If convicted, Robb and Romero both face a maximum sentence of one year in jail. Both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 14, 2009, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. The time and Department are to be determined.
On Nov. 18, 2008, OCSD Deputy Robb, who was off-duty and not in uniform, pulled up to a launch ramp on a fishing vessel in Dana Point Harbor after illegally fishing for lobsters with two other deputies, who were also off-duty and not in uniform. The law preserves and protects the lobster population by requiring that no more than seven lobsters may be caught per person and each lobster must measure three and a quarter inches or more in length.
Robb is accused of being in possession of a bucket containing 13 undersized, illegal lobsters. As CDFG Warden Justin Sandvig spoke with Robb, on-duty OCSD Deputy Romero arrived in uniform in the parking lot and requested to speak with the Warden alone. After learning that Sandvig had not yet identified Robb, Romero is accused of making up a story that Robb was a confidential informant for OCSD and Romero did not want him identified in front of the other two men. Believing this was a legitimate request by a law enforcement officer, Sandvig allowed Romero to handle the situation with Robb.
After confirming that the other two deputies on the vessel were not in possession of any illegal lobsters, Sandvig allowed them to leave. In the following days, Sandvig was in contact with Romero and attempted to obtain Robb’s name for his report and in order to issue a citation. Romero is accused of continuing to claim Robb was a confidential informant and refusing to provide his name.
On Dec. 8, 2008, after learning the identity of Robb and the circumstances surrounding Romero’s attempt to unlawfully interfere in the investigation, Sandvig submitted a report to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) requesting investigation and criminal charges against the defendants in this case. The OCDA investigated this case.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.