Washington County sting targets sex offenders

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 13, 2009, at 9:29 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A daylong sting operation throughout Washington County on Thursday netted five convicted sex offenders, including three who had failed to comply with the state requirement to register with local or county authorities. The other two were arrested on charges that included possession of marijuana and operating under the influence of drugs.

The sting involved approximately 15 Washington County sheriff’s deputies and Maine state troopers who worked for approximately 14 hours to track down the offenders. Sheriff Donnie Smith said Friday the operation was designed to ensure compliance with the Maine Sex Offender Registry Act and also to monitor compliance with probation and bail conditions for convicted sex offenders.

“We take this seriously,” Smith said. “Hopefully, the word will get out that if you’re not registered, the sheriff’s office is going to come get you.”

In addition to the five sex offenders who were arrested, officers also arrested six other people — four men and two women — who were charged with violating their conditions of release.

About 100 convicted sex offenders are living in Washington County, according to Smith. Most are in compliance with the registry law and regularly update their addresses as required, either with the local community where they live or with the Sheriff’s Department. A small number, however, fail to register and bringing them into compliance taxes the department’s resources, he said.

Some offenders supply police with false addresses or fail to notify authorities when they move, Smith said. One of the men arrested Thursday hadn’t lived at his listed address in three years, he said. The address he had given was a vacant lot; the building had been torn down two years ago and he was living in another town.

“It’s a small number,” he said. “But that number can become big if something goes wrong. I’m obligated under state statutes to do this. I don’t want to be the sheriff who’s responsible if somebody reoffends because we haven’t done our job.”

The sting itself was expensive. Smith estimated it cost $800 to $1,000 in overtime and other expenses. He said it was worth it to bring the offenders into compliance.

The operation was successful, and it continues, the sheriff said, adding that there are still at least two offenders that officers did not apprehend Thursday. Officers will continue to search for those individuals, he said.

Smith said he expects to conduct this type of operation again in the future to ensure that sex offenders remain in compliance with the law. In addition, the sheriff said he anticipates additional sting operations in the future to clear outstanding criminal warrants and civil indictments, many of which have been on the books for years.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/02/13/news/down-east/washington-county-sting-targets-sex-offenders/ printed on July 25, 2014