Thursday, May 3, 2012
By Joe Vigil
A Santa Fe lawyer is blasting the U.S. Marshals Service plan of going door to door to verify the addresses of convicted sex offenders in New Mexico. KOB Eyewitness News 4 broke the story last week of "Operation Cleanup."
Marshals plan to check the addresses of the nearly 3,000 registered sex offenders in the state as a matter of public safety.
Santa Fe lawyer Jason Flores-Williams, and the group Reform Sex Offender Laws New Mexico, have concerns about the plan.
Flores-Williams said other law enforcement agencies already check addresses of sex offenders, and wonders why federal authorities are getting involved in something delegated to the state.
"This is nothing more than another gutting of the constitution--a government publicity stunt designed to harass and intimidate that does nothing to enhance public safety," Williams said.
He is telling sex offenders who are not under supervision that they may videotape any encounter at their home with law enforcement and they should get the names of officers who visit.
U.S. Marshals told KOB they have no plans to enter homes. They said they do not have to go inside to check addresses.
They also said they are not conducting the operation on their own. According to the U.S. Marshals, "Operation Cleanup" is an ongoing joint effort between the Marshals Service and state, county and local agencies.
Marshal Conrad Candelaria responded to the plan as a "publicity stunt." He told KOB Monday that he is insulted hearing that. Marshal Candelaria said it is not a stunt to hold people accountable for horrendous acts against families and children.
- And horrendous acts against children also include many other criminals, yet you are not doing this for those!
He also said the Marshals Service also works hard to bring fugitives to justice, including chasing and capturing those who flee to Mexico.
A former Northumberland County deputy turned himself in to authorities on Monday after being indicted last week on 15 additional charges related to allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with students under his watch.
On April 30, Derek Jones, a former school resource officer at Northumberland High School, turned himself in to law enforcement officials after an investigation turned up further criminal charges related to his February arrest. The charges stem from his allegedly predatory interactions with a 15-year-old student as well as new information concerning a second minor, with whom he may also have had an inappropriate sexual relationship.
“On April 24, we brought 15 new indictments against Jones,” said Westmoreland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Julia Sichol, who has been appointed as the special prosecutor on the case. “Of those, eight are for taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a custodial or supervisory relationship and three are for crimes against nature, which include oral sex with a child.”
Sichol added that the remaining charges, including two additional counts of indecent liberties and two counts of using a communication device to solicit naked pictures of a child, were a result of additional information recently unearthed by the active inquiry.
“During the course of the investigation another victim was identified,” she said, noting the alleged victim was a juvenile.
“The investigation at this point is not leading to other children with possible criminal charges against Jones,” Sichol said. “But that is not saying there may not have been inappropriate conversations [there’s] just nothing we can prosecute criminally.”
The investigation into Jones began on Feb. 22, when a fellow student of the initial victim alerted a teacher at the high school to the possible criminal activity.
Social Services and law enforcement officials investigated the allegations and Jones, a veteran deputy who had been with the sheriff’s office for a number of years, was immediately suspended from duty.
Due to possible conflicts of interest, the prosecution of the case was transferred to Sichol with Lancaster Sheriff’s Investigator Joanie Kent taking lead on the investigation.
Additionally, Jones is being held at the Lancaster County jail instead of at the Northern Neck Regional Jail facility in Warsaw, where he would have to be kept in isolation for his own safety.
Sichol added that despite the case’s inherent difficulties, there has been excellent communication and working relationships between all the parties involved, including Northumberland Social Services and the Lancaster Sheriff’s Office.
The charges against Jones will be brought straight to circuit court in Northumberland on May 8.
By Shaun Hittle
A September Journal-World investigation of Kansas sex offenders who fail to register when crossing state lines prompted a federal agency to take action and led to several arrests, said Tom Lanier, a chief inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service.
Last year, a Journal-World investigation found that more than 160 Kansas sex offenders who left Kansas were not registered in other states. Failing to register after moving to other states is potentially a federal and state crime.
Following the investigation, the Journal-World furnished the Marshals Service — tasked with enforcing sex offender laws across state lines — with a list of unregistered offenders.
“We went painstakingly through the list,” said Lanier, who is in charge of the Sex Offender Investigations branch, which includes Kansas.
They were quickly able to narrow the list down, Lanier said. Some of the offenders had died or moved to states with different registration laws that did not require them to register.
For the past several months, the Marshals Service has been investigating 22 of the cases identified by the Journal-World. Those investigations led to two arrests, while two additional sex offenders were arrested for other offenses and could face additional failure-to-register charges.
The Marshals Service is actively searching for several other offenders who have failed to register, but the agency asked that those names not be released.
In addition, two of the offenders, [name withheld] and [name withheld], are currently serving in the U.S. Army. Lanier said that the Marshals Service contacted the Army in both instances and that the Army is aware of both men’s sex-offender status. Calls to the Army for comment were not immediately returned.
Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said the KBI, which is responsible for the Kansas Sex Offender Registry, sends letters to states notifying them that a registered sex offender is entering their state. But after that, it’s somebody else’s responsibility.
“It’s up to (the new state and the offender) to do,” said Smith when interviewed about the issue in September.
There could be cases where an offender moves to one state, then to another, but that information isn’t necessarily communicated among states, Smith said.
That’s exactly the problem, said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for more accountability in sex offender registries nationwide.
“We’ve established a law that requires society’s most cunning of criminals to register on an honor system,” Ahearn said.
- And you established a law based on lies, misinformation and personal feelings. The registry doesn't protect anybody or prevent crime, neither does residency restrictions, it's all about ex post facto (unconstitutional) punishment, and to see how far people are willing to eradicate others rights for temporary "safety!" It's the same with the TSA stuff and losing personal rights based on a boogieman, you lose your rights for a placebo to make you feel safe when you never will be.
Inconsistent laws among states make keeping track of sex offenders a complicated endeavor, a situation Lanier and the Marshals Service is all too familiar with.
“There’s 50 ways of doing business out there,” Lanier said. “Nobody really has a clue how many (sex offenders) have to register.”
In some cases, an offender in one state may not be required to register in another state. That means some clever offenders are engaged in “state shopping,” where offenders move to a state where registry laws may not be as strict.
“That’s not uncommon,” Lanier said.
My question is, since he did commit a sex crime and also traded drugs for sex (a form of prostitution) will he be on the sex offender, drug offender and prostitution offender registry? Of course not, he's a cop!
By Stephanie Nelson
The former Andalusia police officer who pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution of a controlled substance last May is now behind bars, serving a one-year jail sentence.
Joshua Chad Wood, 30, was arrested by Drug Task Force agents in 2008 for allegedly trading prescription pills for sex. He entered his plea before Circuit Judge Lex Short and received a 97-month sentence per a plea agreement. He immediately applied for probation.
Court records show a judge’s order was executed Tuesday modifying Wood’s sentence to a “reverse split” sentence of 12 months confinement in the county jail and 18 months of probation – meaning he will serve the jail time now and then be placed on probation.
Last year, Short told Wood during his probation hearing that he held Wood to a higher standard.
- I disagree, the average citizen would be on the sex offender registry and possibly others for 10 years to life, so no, he's not held to a higher standard, but a lower standard.
“The fact of it is that I hold you to a high standard,” Judge Short said to Wood. “If you were not a police officer, I would probably grant you probation. But, I wrestle with the decision. I’ve not made up my mind. I want you to know I do hold you to a higher standard and because of that, you’re not getting an answer today. I’ll issue an order on it.”
Wood was arrested by DTF agents after it was discovered he was providing a police escort inside the city limits to known drug dealers to protect them from police contact. Wood was caught following an undercover operation at a local motel.
He had the prescription pills in his possession, and it was alleged he was trading them for sex.
Video Series Description:
Are you aware of the changes to the Michigan Sex Offender's Registration Act that took effect July 1, 2011? Do you know there are new petitioning procedures to remove your clients from the sex offender registry? Are you aware of the increased penalties for non-compliance and the stringent requirements demanded from registrants? Come to this seminar to learn the ins and outs of the registry. Speaker is well known local expert and defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter. Moderated by Thomas Loeb, Esq.