GATLINBURG (Tennessee) • Steve Penny, the former president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, was arrested on Wednesday on a felony charge of evidence-tampering in a Texas investigation looking into the sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the imprisoned former national team doctor.
A grand jury in Walker County, Texas, indicted Penny on Sept 28 on allegations that he had ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch, which is a national team training centre in the county, after learning that an investigation had begun into Nassar's behaviour at the site.
If convicted, he could face between two and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to US$10,000 (S$13,800), according to a statement from the district attorney's office in Walker County.
The gymnastics federation has had two chief executives since Penny resigned under pressure in March last year. Both successors have also been forced out.
The latest replacement, Mary Bono, stepped aside from her interim appointment on Tuesday after holding the job for less than a week.
The statement said Penny had ordered the removal of the documents "for the purpose of impairing the ongoing investigation".
The documents were sent to him at the USA Gymnastics headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, but law enforcement officials have yet to recover them.
Penny, who lives in a suburb of Indianapolis, was arrested by US marshals in Tennessee and was awaiting extradition to Texas, according to the announcement from the district attorney's office.
"Mr Penny is confident that when all the facts are known, the allegations against him will be disproved," said a statement by Leigh Robie, one of his lawyers.
Robie added that Penny had been on vacation in Tennessee with his family and had no idea he had been indicted.
John Manly, a lawyer for many of Nassar's victims, said the arrest was a long time coming and labelled Penny as "being among the worst" enablers of the disgraced doctor.
Nassar was sentenced in January to up to 175 years in prison - on top of a 60-year term for child pornography - for abusing hundreds of gymnasts entrusted to his care.