Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CA - Dealing with sex offenders and predators

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OH - Convicted sex offenders offered escape from registering (SCAM ALERT)

Original Article

This is nothing but fear mongering, over a scam. If the police really wanted to put a stop to it, they would send $90, then sit and monitor the drop box, and when the person shows up, arrest them, problem solved!

07/26/2010

By Ron Regan

$90 fee promises freedom

CLEVELAND - An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation reveals who's behind an offer to that could make it more difficult to track convicted sex offenders by promising to remove them from law enforcement registries.

Law enforcement agencies in Ohio, Virginia and New York confirm they are investigating offers being made to sex offenders that they can "legally" be removed from national and state sex offender websites in exchange for a $90 fee. Police said this is not a legitimate service.

NewsChannel5 obtained a copy of a letter sent from what appears to be a New York city law firm that targets convicted sex offenders.

Beckett, Gilbert & Harris claims to be a national law firm with offices headquartered in New York City and around the country.

But instead of a law firm, we found nothing more than mailbox drop.

"No one knows anything about them," said Cleveland attorney Elizabeth Kelley. "The reason they want to remain under the radar is because they don't want to be found."

But Kelley points out that if sex offenders feel they have a good reason to stop reporting their home addresses to law enforcement, "we have lost touch with an entire group of individuals who we need to be tracking."

John Martin is the chief appellate Supervisor for the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office.

"The notion that this kind of payment will take care of your entire sexual registration is nothing more than a sham," said Martin. "We can't find any evidence that the law firm even exists in the state of New York or that it has an Ohio office as they claim."

But there's growing concern among law enforcement that it could lead to tens of thousands of convicted sex offenders disappearing into thin air in the belief that they no longer are required to register where they live.

Lt. Don Michalosky heads up the Sex Offenders Unit for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff Department and he too is concerned that sex offenders may mistakingly believe they no longer need to register

"If there were enough of these, this would begin to create a burden on the system--an already bogged down system," Michalosky said.

Michalosky said his deputies would be out searching for people to arrest who would otherwise be complying with the law-- if not for the scam.

In Ohio, sex offenders are required to register with local law enforcement agencies after they are released from prison, and residents are sent notifications when sex offenders move into neighborhoods.

Dianna Brown is a mother of three who said she has several sex offenders in the neighborhood where she lives and relies on offender registries to help track who is moving in.

"It lets me know where they are and it lets me inform my children where they are," said Brown. "Without that-- I can't tell my children anything."

An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation Monday at 11 p.m. reveals who's behind all this and why it could lead to sex offenders moving right next door without notification.

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