Former USAG president Steve Penny arrested on tampering charges in Larry Nassar case

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Steve Penny is behind bars after officials tracked him down in a Tennessee cabin on charges of tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar case. (Getty)
Steve Penny is behind bars after officials tracked him down in a Tennessee cabin on charges of tampering with evidence in the Larry Nassar case. (Getty)

Former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny was arrested in his Gatlinburg, Tennessee, cabin late Wednesday on felony charges of tampering with evidence related to the Larry Nassar scandal.

Prosecutors announced in a press release Wednesday that a Texas grand jury returned felony charges on Penny in late September, prompting an investigation into his whereabouts.

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Found on vacation

The investigation by Texas Deputy U.S. Marshals and members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force led officials to his cabin Wednesday night, where he was arrested.

“On September 28, 2018, a Walker County Grand Jury convened to continue their ongoing investigation of the Karolyi Ranch and those individuals who may have committed offenses related to the conduct of Dr. Larry Nassar at that location, a press release stated. “On that same day, the Grand Jury returned an indictment on Penny for Tampering with Evidence, a third degree felony,” the press release stated.

According to his attorney, Penny was on vacation with his family in Tennessee when he was arrested.

“When he went to Tennessee on a vacation with his family, Mr. Penny had no knowledge there had been an indictment in Texas,” Edith Matthai told the Beaumont Enterprise. “He was arrested when a team of armed marshals suddenly arrived at the vacation cabin while he was sitting with his wife and three children.

“If Mr. Penny had any idea he was sought in Texas, this would have been appropriately handled through counsel without terrifying his family. Mr. Penny has not and would not have attempted to avoid the service of a summons.

“… Mr. Penny is confident that when all the facts are known the allegations against him will be disproven.”

Penny faces between two and 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Penny accused of removing documents during Nassar probe

The indictment alleges that Penny removed documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Walker County pertaining to the Nassar case during the investigation of the former team doctor. Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison on child pornography charges and for sexually abusing girls under his care over the course of decades. During his sentencing, 168 of his victims recounted in a Michigan court room his abuse.

The Karolyi Ranch was the training home of USA Gymnastics for years.

Missing documents never recovered

Sources told U.S. Marshals and the Walker County Sheriff’s office that Penny ordered documents removed from the ranch during the Nassar investigation and had them delivered to USAG Headquarters in Indianapolis, WATE in Gatlinburg reports. Those documents have not been recovered.

“The Texas Rangers and the detectives believe that those records are material to their investigation and that the removal of the records by Penny prevented them from reviewing documents that would have helped in their investigation of Nassar as well as assisted with the investigation of other offenses that may have occurred at the Karolyi Ranch,” a release from Walker County district attorney David P. Weeks stated.

Penny resigned amid Nassar scandal

Penny resigned from USAG in March 2017 as the organization was in the middle of the Nassar scandal.

Penny is awaiting transfer to Walker County, Texas, where he was indicted.

“Deputy U.S. Marshals and task force officers from the Southern District of Texas and the Eastern District Tennessee worked tirelessly to locate Penny,” U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee David Jolley stated in a press release. “Good police work ensured that Penny was swiftly and safely apprehended. He will now face the charges against him.”

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