Sunday, May 3, 2009

DC - Ex-Senate aide gets five years for child porn

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05/03/2009

By Scott McCabe - Examiner Staff Writer

A former high-ranking aide to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (Contact) was sentenced to five years in prison for possessing child pornography.

Jeff P. Rosato, 32, of Arlington, received the minimum sentencing allowed under federal guidelines at his hearing Friday before District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria. Rosato faced a maximum 20 years. Prosecutors asked for 6 1/2 years. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

His attorneys argued that he had been molested and bullied as a child and never properly dealt with those issues.

He lost everything he worked so hard to achieve” his attorney, Lavonda Graham-Williams, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Graham-Williams’ sentencing recommendation was accompanied by dozens of letters of support from friends and family. Graham-Williams added out that Rosato enjoyed mild success as a child actor, playing an extra next to Tom Hanks on “Saturday Night Live” and playing a body double for child actor Fred Savage in a major motion picture.

Other letters lauded his accomplishments as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia, a legislative assistant and counsel in the U.S. Senate, and a senior policy adviser and counsel for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which Boxer chairs.

Rosato earned $101,000 and focused on issues such as endangered species, water policy and oceans. He was fired from Boxer’s office after the California Democrat learned of the charges.

Rosato was charged in November, months after FBI agents discovered thousands of child pornographic images on his computer. Many of the images matched pictures in a national database of missing children.

Investigators were led to Rosato after linking his IP address to a Google Hello user name that had received hundreds of child pornographic images from a known porn distributor, identified in court documents as “Mr. X.

The unnamed distributor’s computer was seized in January 2008, and Rosato’s user name was among several who had been receiving the pornographic files, the statement said.
- So why isn't the distributor of the child porn being named as well?



FL - Broward bridge hosts own exiles

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05/03/2009

By FRED GRIMM

Broward's outcasts live an invisible life under a graffiti-splashed bridge abutment by the North New River Canal.

A fluctuating number of homeless men reside down there, unnoticed by motorists passing on a soaring tangle of ramps and overpasses at the confluence of U.S. 441 and I-595. But only four were ordered there by state parole officers.

A mere four sex offenders forced to sleep under a bridge hardly compares to the demented situation at the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, where more than 60 registered sex offenders have been squeezed into a public health menace. But that hardly lessens the absurdity of Broward residency restrictions that preclude offenders without wealth from finding a home.

But the Broward homeless colony is sure to grow as more sex offenders emerge from prison.

MORE TO COME

"More and more will be coming," said _____, who was consigned to the 441 Bridge six months ago. His driver's license now lists his address as the nearest intersection. "There's no place else to go," he said.

The Broward County Commission intends to tighten residency restrictions in the county's last few unincorporated neighborhoods. And on April 14, the county adopted a temporary ordinance that precluded any new offenders from moving into those areas. That left no option but virtual banishment to the bowels of the bridge.

"We live like trolls," _____ said. And it's a permanent designation: a life sentence in a sometimes dangerous netherworld, amid transients, drunks and thieves.

"You sleep with one eye open," said _____, 41, a small, soft-spoken man, a former tile setter who lived a comfortable middle-class life in Pompano Beach before the 14-year-old child of his girlfriend made her devastating accusation. He served an eight-year sentence.

"I can't live a stable life down here. I can't get a job." he said. "I just can't live like this."

TASK FORCE FORMS

On Tuesday, the Broward County Commission will appoint a task force charged with finding a sensible, civilized, non-Miami solution to the imbroglio. Perhaps, instead of the ban on sex offenders living within 2,500 feet of a school, kindergarten, playground or school bus stop -- tantamount to declaring the entire county east of the Everglades off-limits -- maybe a tough no-loitering law around places where kids congregate.

But among those asking for an appointment to the task force was Ron Book, South Florida's most powerful lobbyist and the state's most vocal champion of the draconian residency restrictions.

_____, who asked that his last name not be published ("I've caused my family enough problems,") was swept up in an Internet sting in 2007 in Polk County by a policeman posing as an underage girl. It was a first criminal offense for _____, then 21, and his no-contest plea got him four years of house arrest, 11 years of probation.

He found a job, despite the electronic ankle bracelet. With his family's help, he purchased a house in unincorporated Broward County. But he worries that if the county adopts the meanest restrictions, he faces the prospect of house arrest without a house.

"I made one mistake. I didn't realize when I took the plea deal that I was getting a life sentence," he said. "I didn't know I could be living under a bridge."



FL - A life of tension, fear for sex offenders living under Miami bridge

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Another Related Article

I changed the title of this, the reported used "sexual predator" where he should've used "sex offender," because not all sex offenders under the bridge are predators like he seems to assume. Video is at the end.

05/02/2009

By ROBERT SAMUELS

On an ever-shrinking patch of sand at the underbelly of the Julia Tuttle Causeway, tents and shacks are filling with those who have raped, touched and fondled. A colony of convicts who can do little more than create a community of their own.

There are 66 here now -- three times as many sex offenders as just a year ago.

"People call this place a camp, like it's pretty and fun," said Osvaldo Castillo, 29, who was convicted of molesting a 6-year-old boy. "It's not fun at all. We are living like animals and trying to make the best of it."

There have been breakdowns, suicide attempts, heart attacks. All set to the backdrop of gentle Biscayne Bay and the evolving Miami skyline, a luxury teasing them as much as the address posted for them in the state registry: "Transient."

The 65 men and one woman living here are anything but transient. They are replacing tents with wooden structures. A solitary weight bench is now a bench among benches. They've added a fridge, a sofa, a football.

When morning arrives, men embrace their wives -- some of whom arrive by car overnight -- and begin the day. The men must be back at night or face being sent to prison for violating parole.

OUTCASTS, BY LAW

In 2005, the Miami-Dade County Commission became one of many Florida cities to pass an ordinance turning sex offenders and predators into outcasts. They barred them from living within 2,500 feet of places children congregate. Deputy County Manager Pete Hernandez told commissioners there would be no developed place left for the offenders to live -- except wealthy Pinecrest. There were a few other choices: squat at the airport, camp in the Everglades or congregate under the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge linking Miami Beach to the mainland.

Or they could leave Miami-Dade. Except that Palm Beach County and, just this month, Broward, passed similar ordinances.

With so few options, sex offenders began registering addresses under the bridge -- with the knowledge of their probation officers.

About seven were there three years ago, but the number kept growing. Challenges to the living restrictions by civil rights lawyers have failed thus far, and so life on the sand under the bridge took on a permanence.

"Now, we gotta be our own city," said Juan Carlos Martin, convicted of exposing himself to a 15-year-old girl. "Every attempt we've made to fight this has failed, so we have to make this work."

DAY IN AND DAY OUT

A city must have social mores: Most residents must be home by 10 p.m. They have to carry GPS tracking devices, and missing curfew could mean a trip back to jail. The place usually goes quiet by 1 a.m so people can sleep. No one can leave until 6 a.m. During the day, people are free to come and go.

Once a week or so, everyone gives Patrick Wiese, convicted of molesting a 9-year-old girl, two dollars to help pay for gasoline for the generator. In return, the bigger guys built the scrawny Wiese his own wooden shanty.

Wiese's shanty features a lofted twin bed, a DVD player and a 13-inch television. Sometimes, he and Martin gather for Family Guy.

Outside, Hector Alvarez and Roberto Garcia fish on a dock they've built themselves. Each day, for the past five months, they've hopped into their gray van and scoured the streets looking for wood.

Alvarez's wooden duplex has three hot plates, a TV and a shower (consisting of a plastic jug they fill with water from the bay, heat up and pour over themselves). One day, they dream of finding enough pipes to install indoor plumbing.

Family bought Alvarez a small red boat for fishing. It stands on the front porch facing the bay.

"My granddaughter thinks I'm a monster," said Alvarez, who pleaded guilty to exposing his genitals to his friend's children.

"I have nothing to live for," said Garcia, who pleaded guilty to inappropriately kissing a 10-year-old girl.

The future looks much like today and yesterday. There is no public clock, so 10 minutes can seem like an hour. Most residents work odd jobs or around the house for their families. Few employers want to risk hiring them.

"Yes, we drink to ease the pain," said Martin, holding a 40-ounce Miller High Life. There are three long, thin scars on his left arm from his suicide attempt. Above that is tattooed the word "Outlaw." The right arm is filled with hearts, a bow and arrow with the name of his mom.

"But if we are monsters, how could we [make] this?" he asked, pointing to the wooden structures being built. "Now there is little for us to do for but swim, fish and fight."

THE ONE AND ONLY

Voncel Johnson prefers spades. She plays whenever her favorite relative, Auntie Sophie, comes to visit her from Brownsville. It helps to create a semblance of normalcy on this patch, where Johnson is truly an island.

In March, Johnson became the only female resident of the colony of sex offenders.

She says she grew up watching family and friends be raped. Her boyfriend forced her into having sex with his friends at once, she says. She distrusted men, which is why she found love in a woman's embrace.

She pleaded guilty to exposing herself to a girlfriend's children while playing strip poker. The charge, she said, came after they broke up.

The day she got out of jail, she said, her probation officer gave her two options: Move here, or go back behind bars.

The first day she arrived, she said she broke into fits of tears.

As she wept, another woman approached her. It was a woman who, many nights, sleeps next to her husband inside a Camry. She promised to look out for her, and that everything would be OK.

One of the neighbors offered his camper. She stayed there, but eventually chose to live in a tent. She didn't feel like owing anyone anything. Still, she uses its bathroom so she doesn't have to go to the outhouse. Not a place for a lady.

"They treat me like I'm their sister," Johnson said. "The guys, they know not to touch me because they don't want to go to jail. And they know I'm not looking for a boyfriend. Here, I've learned that not all men are bad."

Her GPS monitoring device beeps. "Stand outside," it commands.

"Outside?!" she laughs. "I am outside."

HOPE RUNS THIN

They used to hope they'd get more secure housing. The American Civil Liberties Union and the public defenders say they're still working on it. Social services have been out at least a dozen times in the past month -- but have only been able to find housing for one person.

"All these people have stopped by saying they want to help," Martin said. 'They come and say, `Oh, this is horrible.' Three months later, you still never hear from them. No one wants to help a sex offender. They think we're all baby bangers."

One night, about 9 p.m., a pastor walks around the community. His name is Vincent Spann, and he runs a boot camp for the homeless and addicted in Liberty City.

Spann tells Martin he has found a warehouse at the edge of the city of Miami that can hold 50 people -- and is lobbying the county for $230,000 to transform the facility into a haven for the offenders. A local reporter follows him with a camera, which Spann uses as an opportunity for a taped interview.

Martin puts his hands behind his back and stands with his legs shoulder length apart as Spann asks him questions.

"How long you've been here?"

"Three years."

"What's the oldest person who's lived here?"

"The oldest person is 83 years old, sir."

"Well, I want to help you," Spann tells him. "I could see a man going crazy here."

"This reminds me of in the Bible, when people had leprosy . . ."

"You've done your time and should be integrated into society," he says to no one in particular.

About 15 minutes later, Spann and his entourage walk back to his Expedition -- which is curiously still full of women and children.

Martin says he hasn't heard from Spann since.

"Just like all the others," Martin said.

TEMPTATION TO FLEE

The State Department of Corrections sees no benefits to concentrating offenders under the bridge, says its spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff. As of mid-April, the department was supervising 43 of the 66 people there.

So far, they've lost track of eight who have run away. They still can't find three of them.

A large muscular man who only goes by the moniker "Baldhead" has seen it happen: People became so fed up at the squalid conditions, they allowed their tracking device to run out and then ran away. He says he might do it, too.

It's only a matter of time before something terrible happens, Baldhead said. Last month, as he was walking to the mainland, someone threw a bottle at him and yelled "f---ing child molester!"

"I'm no child molester," he says, emphasizing he was hardly older than his victim.

Under the bridge, there is a hierarchy of shame. Those who have raped or fondled teenagers look down on those who have touched children. Those who have touched little girls are disgusted at those who might have touched boys. At least one of the offenders is openly gay, and he sleeps in his truck in a grassy area away from the campers and doesn't want to talk about his life.

Baldhead tries not to get involved in the drama of the community. In January, one member was arrested and charged with murder. In March, another was charged with fondling a 7-year-old at a friend's home.

Right now, Baldhead spends his time inside his tent -- a carpeted one -- reading a science fantasy novel, The Winds of Fate.

A JUDGE'S HARD ADVICE

The winds ruffled Angel Blanco's tent the morning he prepared for the judge. He shaved using a flashlight, wiggled into a green T-shirt and jeans, slipped on a dirty pair of road gloves. Then he slid out of his camper and into his wheelchair.

He rolled himself out of the camp, along the dirt path to the cars whizzing past on the morning commute. The journey took him an hour.

His wife, he said, was set to pick him up so he could reason with the judge that the place was unsuitable for a disabled man.

When he returns, he reports that the judge told him to file a lawsuit. So Blanco began raising money. He spent the rest of the day moving to nearby convenience stores and asking for bottled water. He resold them in the middle of Flagler Avenue near the courthouse.

"I don't have the money for a lawyer," he said. "I guess I will be here for a while."

At the edge of the rocks, four children are playing near the water.

They are gone by 10 p.m., the hour everyone needs to return.

AT DAY'S END

Blanco is wheeling around asking for cigarettes. Johnson is on a bench talking to Auntie Sophie about the next time they can play spades.

Castillo is talking to the man who owns the most elaborate shack. It's painted turquoise on the outside. Inside are a red sofa and love seats. He even installed tiles on the floor.

But there's not much time to talk. Along the embankment, three men are starting the nightly dominoes game. And they need a fourth.

The cars' roaring from above echoes in the ear drums of the residents below. The game ends. Doors close, tents zip up, lamps turn off and the place gives way to darkness. But the sound always continues. The next morning, so does life.



Residency Restrictions for Convicted Sex Offenders - A Popular Approach on Questionnable Footing



Robinson & Cole, LLP

Albany Law School

New York Zoning and Planning Law Report, Vol. 9, No. 4, February 2009

Abstract:
Municipalities across the country are adopting residency restrictions prohibiting convicted sex offenders from living in close proximity to places that children are likely to frequent. The number of sex offenders is large - by one report there are some 550,000 registered sex offenders nationally. As more and more local and state governments adopt residency restrictions, municipal lawyers and planners are increasingly finding themselves at the center of the debate. The literature and discussions in case law suggest that residency restrictions do not reduce recidivism, do not offer any real protection for potential victims, are generally not legally defensible, and thwart efforts to reform offenders and return them to society. This however, is ignored by the emotional demands of community residents to enact these laws to “protect vulnerable children” from convicted offenders. As a body is case law is starting to develop concerning these laws, it is becoming apparent that municipalities may have difficulty defending residency restrictions. This article provides a brief review of the literature and then discusses constitutional and statutory issues through an examination of recent caselaw.



GA - More than 500 people have been banished from Houston County

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This article is just a load of BS IMO.  Banishment is wrong, period!

05/03/2009

By Becky Purser

WARNER ROBINS — More than 500 people have been banished in Houston County since 1998 when the District Attorney’s Office started tracking this sentencing option.

Still, that’s about one out of every 60 cases, comparing the 500 banishments to more than 30,000 cases for the same time frame, said Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke.

That’s important, Burke said, because banishment isn’t designed to push off Houston County’s criminals to other counties, or it would be used all the time.

Instead, it’s only used in Houston County when it makes sense, he said.

For example, the 500th person to be banished from Houston County was 38-year-old _____ from Atlanta who drove down to forge a check, Burke said. _____ was sentenced to five years probation in addition to being ordered to stay out of Houston County, the prosecutor said.

He actually came down here to do the crime,” Burke said. “That’s why he was banished.
- So why not banish people from every place they've committed a crime?  That is basically what you did here.

Keeping a person out of the county where the crime was committed during the probationary period may actually help the offender, Burke said.

For example, banishment disrupts the network of a drug abuser or dealer, breaking the cycles of addiction and the criminal activity of buying and selling, Burke said.

I believe banishment really works,” Burke said. “It provides a chance to get your life straight while on probation.

A USEFUL TOOL

In the case of domestic violence, often the victim doesn’t want the abuser to go to jail but to simply be left alone, Burke said.

Banishment gives the victim peace of mind that they can safely go to a restaurant or to a child’s soccer game without the offender showing up and claiming they didn’t know the victim was at the restaurant or the game — a common scenario that plays out in restraining orders, Burke said.
- That is if the offender obeys the law!  It's just more of the same old "false security!"

The offender is simply not allowed to be in Houston County, and ignoring that order can violate an offender’s probation and send them to jail, the prosecutor said.

Also, in many cases, the offender may be responsible for child support, Burke said. Locking the offender up prevents the offender from earning a living, which isn’t beneficial to the offender or the victim, Burke said.

In Houston County, a system was set up through 911 in which a banishment restriction pops up on an individual much like an outstanding warrant when an officer runs a criminal history, Burke said. Although banishment is a condition of sentencing imposed by the judge, most cases in Houston County are resolved through a negotiated plea among prosecutors and defense attorneys in which banishment is a part of that deal, Burke said.

UNIFORM GUIDELINES?

Jim Rockefeller, a criminal defense attorney in Warner Robins, said banishment can be a useful tool with someone who is involved in some sort of network of gang activity or drug dealers.

However, wholesale use of banishment would result in simply shuffling people around the state, he said.

Also, if wrongly used, banishment can set up a person for failure by cutting them off from positive networks such as families and jobs, Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller said he believes it would be appropriate for the state General Assembly to develop uniform guidelines on the use of banishment.

Another option that judges might consider would be requiring banishment consideration to be part of arguments during sentencing hearings, rather than part of negotiated pleas among prosecutors and defense attorneys, Rockefeller said.

RARE IN BIBB

In neighboring Bibb County, banishment is rare.

We have done it a few times since I’ve been in office but not a whole lot,” Bibb County District Attorney Howard Simms said. “Some of our judges don’t like it.

Simms said he also has problems himself with the enforceability of banishment and other issues it creates, such as with child custody.

Superior Court Judge S. Phillip Brown said there are some practical considerations of why banishment wouldn’t work on a broad-based approach or as a routine matter.

What about doctor’s appointments, for example?, Brown said.

His concern is that banishment may set up an offender for failure when the justice system should encourage success.

Banishment could actually restrict a person from keeping his life together, Brown said.

For example, if a truck driver couldn’t drive in Bibb County without breaking his probation, that would restrict his employment, or if a carpenter worked for a contractor who took a job in Bibb County, the carpenter would have to violate his probation or lose his job, Brown said.

You’re really putting someone at a severe disadvantage,” Brown said. “We’re not there to make it unnecessarily rough.

Former Superior Court Judge Bryant Culpepper, an attorney in Macon, agreed that enforcement would be difficult.

A person who is known in Bibb County is easier to keep track of than if that same person moves to another county where law enforcement and the courts aren’t familiar with him or her, he said.

Just the management of people’s time and where they go gets to be a burden after a while,” Culpepper said.



VT - Man charged after alleged knife threat against a man he "claims" is a sex offender

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05/03/2009

By Gordon Dritschilo

A Rutland man denied charges of menacing another man with a knife, saying he was trying to tell a sex offender to keep away from a mentally challenged teenage girl.

Mark E. Kriskov, 47, of South Street, pleaded innocent Monday in Rutland District Court to a felony charge of aggravated assault with a weapon. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Rutland City Police said they responded to a call at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday that Kriskov, also known as Johnny Est, had pulled a knife on _____ in a South Street driveway.

_____ and two other witnesses at the scene said Kriskov arrived in a pickup, got out, called _____ a child molester and threatened him with a hunting knife, according to affidavits.

Police said Kriskov told them he pulled a knife because _____ came at him with a baseball bat — something the two witnesses denied. Police said they could smell intoxicants on Kriskov and that his eyes were bloodshot and watery.

Kriskov's roommate pointed police to a hunting knife with a 3-inch blade, police said, and witnesses identified it as the one Kriskov brandished. Kriskov continued yelling that _____ was a child molester as he was arrested, police said, and on the way to jail commented, "I should have busted him up."
- I hope this man, who is apparently dangerous and violent, spends a long time in jail/prison.

While a search of the Vermont Sex Offender registry did not turn up a _____, somebody by that name was arrested in Pittsford in 1996 for having violated probation stemming from charges in Maine of two counts of gross sexual assault and one of rape.

In court, Kriskov was ordered held without bail on an alleged probation violation, and Judge Thomas Zonay set bail at $10,000 on the assault charge. Kriskov said that with bail so high, he might as well plead guilty then and there before going on to defend his actions.

Kriskov again claimed that _____ had a baseball bat, and said the knife he had was a plastic toy, the knife police found was not his, and he did not threaten to stab _____.

He also said he saw _____ giving candy to a mentally challenged 13-year-old girl from the neighborhood, calling the situation "another Brooke Bennett waiting to happen."

Zonay told Kriskov if he was concerned, he should have called the police immediately.

"You're not allowed, under any circumstances, to take the law into your own hands," Zonay said.