By Ed Runyan
A year ago, it appeared the legal system wasn’t dealing effectively with Andre Ervin, 48, of Warren, who’d been charged criminally 56 times in nine years.
How about a 30-year-old woman charged with nearly 100 criminal offenses since 2001?
That’s the history of Stephanie Romeo, originally from Liberty, whose most recent run-in with law enforcement involved spitting, using profanity and resisting arrest last Thursday at the Trumbull County Department of Job and Family Services office on North Park Avenue downtown.
Records at the county jail indicate Romeo, who will appear Thursday in Warren Municipal Court on a felonious-assault charge, has been charged with 96 offenses stemming from incidents in Warren, Liberty, Girard, Youngstown and Weathersfield Township since 2001.
Many of the arrests follow a similar pattern, according to police reports: Romeo making threats, releasing a barrage of profanity, sometimes physical violence and spitting.
Jail booking photos of Romeo from 2001 through 2005 show a young girl with long hair and pretty features.
The booking photo from last week shows a short-haired Romeo with hard, masculine features. Many police reports from 2001 through 2009 mention confusion over whether Romeo is male or female.
One of charges filed against her was for domestic violence.
A September 2009 report from the Liberty Police Department said Romeo’s 72-year-old grandmother refused to allow Romeo to live with her after an incident at the grandmother’s home on Trumbull Court in Liberty in which Romeo allegedly threatened to kill the grandmother. Romeo also assaulted the woman, who walked with a cane, the report said.
About a two weeks later, Romeo was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after police said they found her with a kitchen knife in her pocket.
In September 2007, Romeo had gone to an elderly man’s home on Main Street in Mineral Ridge and attempted to enter the partially blind man’s house, police said. The elderly man’s relative told police Romeo said she was “there to visit,” but also asked for money.
In December 2006, Romeo went into a McQuaid’s gas station in Girard at around midnight, begging for a cigarette, a police report said. She screamed profanities at customers and attacked a male employee with a cigarette receptacle, hitting him in the groin and hand with it, police said.
Her first adult arrest — disorderly conduct — was in Youngstown on Oct. 13, 2001, when she was 19. The first time Romeo’s name appears in Warren Municipal Court was June 2005, when she faced felonious assault.
Judge Terry Ivanchak ordered a psychological evaluation to determine whether Romeo was competent to stand trial.
The record doesn’t indicate what the evaluation showed, but several months after the charges were filed, Romeo was allowed to plead no contest to a lesser charge of assault, found guilty, and released with credit for time served.
Her criminal charges have mushroomed in the past two years, with charges filed against her three times this month, nine times in 2012.
Among the most common charges against her are criminal trespass (19 times), disorderly conduct (14 times), felonious assault and assault (10 times), carrying a concealed weapon and domestic violence (3 times each). She’s been charged with felonies a dozen or more times, but she has no felony convictions on record.
Jeff Hovanic, a bailiff in Warren Municipal Court who is also a Champion Township trustee who served on the Trumbull County Board of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health for eight years ending in 2001, says Romeo appears to be one of the people for whom the legal system has few answers.
“There are issues there that don’t appear to have good answers right now,” Hovanic said.