August 23, 2012

U.S. marshals conduct sex offender compliance operation

Beginning early Tuesday morning, law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, the sheriff’s offices of the affected counties, the North Carolina Division of Community Corrections, and the Plymouth Police Department set out to verify that all registered sex offenders in Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties were in compliance with North Carolina guidelines.

Operation Pharos was conducted by the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force, along with the state and local law enforcement agencies.

By the end of the operation Wednesday, authorities had visited the homes of each of the 95 registered sex offenders in the selected counties.

In addition to verifying the compliance of the registered sex offenders, officers also arrested four individuals on a variety of charges, and seized three firearms. Additional arrests are possible as a result of on-going investigations in the four counties.

Those arrested are:

Gregory Todd Richardson, 49, of Duck, was arrested on an outstanding warrant charging him with failing to report a change of address-sex offender.
Eric Sykes, 41, of Columbia, was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.
Marcus Shaw, 40, of Engelhard, was arrested on an outstanding order for arrest for failing to pay child support out of Chowan County.
Martin L. Hardy, Jr., 29, of Manteo, was arrested on an outstanding order for arrest based on an indictment for forgery of an instrument and uttering forged instrument.

This operation is the first of its kind to be conducted in these counties and follows the successful conclusion of other such operations sponsored by the U.S. Marshals in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

On July 27, 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. This legislation is aimed at sex offenders who fail to comply with state law by moving from state to state and failing to notify the required authorities of their current location. Prior to this federal law, such sex offenders could easily move to new communities undetected, where they were less likely to be recognized and therefore more readily able to re-offend on unsuspecting victims and their families.

The U.S. Marshals Service has been tasked as the lead investigative agency to enforce the Adam Walsh Act. As a result, Sex Offender Investigations Coordinators are stationed in every judicial district throughout the United States and its territories. The goal of the marshals is to assist local and state jurisdictions in assuring that sex-offenders comply with it the requirements of the act, in addition to prosecuting those who violate it.

And in an effort to fulfill this obligation, the marshals have developed a system of partnering with state and local agencies responsible for managing and maintaining sex offender registries, and for dealing with any such offenders who fail to obey legal obligations and restrictions applicable to them by order of the courts.

Since January 2009, the marshals have conducted 598 sex offender-specific operations, involving 12,529 state and local law enforcement personnel from 3,156 state and local agencies. 109,703 compliance checks have been conducted and 45,592 fugitive sex offenders have been arrested.

“Operation Pharos has sent a loud and clear message to the violent criminals and sex offenders throughout the counties of Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington,” stated Scott J. Parker, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “The message that was sent out by the United States Marshals Service and the other agencies involved is that working collaboratively, we will utilize all resources available to seek out individuals attempting to avoid prosecution and we will work tirelessly to ensure that the community and the children of the community are safe from sex offenders.”

Doug Doughtie, Sheriff of Dare County, said, “One of the most important tasks assigned to the Sheriff is the registration and monitoring of convicted sex offenders. In Dare County, we take this task seriously. We have an investigator that monitors the registered sex offenders on a daily basis, making sure that we have accurate records of their places of residence, and other things required by statute.

“We periodically conduct surprise visits and compliance checks. We were fortunate to have the assistance of U.S. Marshal Scott Parker, several of his Deputy U.S. Marshals, N.C. Probation Officers. and local officers in conducting this week’s compliance operation. When law enforcement agencies can work together, the public benefits. I want to thank Marshal Parker and all of the various agencies that participated in this important operation.”

“The Hyde County Sheriff’s Office appreciates the opportunity to work with the U.S. Marshals Service in conjunction with N.C. Probation and Parole in Operation Pharos,” said Sheriff David Mason.

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