The two-day sex-offender compliance check was the first of its kind by the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, which maintains the registry in which convicted offenders must list their current addresses.
The sweep netted two arrests of people living where they weren’t supposed to be, and deputies took out warrants on two other offenders they couldn’t find, according to sheriff’s Capt. Jimps Cole, who coordinated the operation.
“We want to be more aggressive with compliance checks because what we found out in Athens-Clarke County is that sex offenders, on the average, move three times a year,” Cole said. “They are a very transient group and it’s important that we make sure they are living where they are supposed to.”
Under state law, sex offenders must register their addresses with the local sheriff’s office when placed on probation or upon release from jail or prison; they must notify authorities each time they move to a new address.
During the May 16-17 compliance check, authorities found nearly all of the county’s 141 registered offenders lived where they were supposed to.
Though local sheriffs maintains the registries, law enforcement agencies statewide have websites on which they post the names, photos and addresses of sex offenders as a community service.
Parents with young children, for example, frequently check such sites to see if offenders have moved into their neighborhoods or near schools, according to Cole.
The local sheriff’s office provides an online service called “Offender Watch,” in which people enter certain addresses — like their homes and children’s schools — and they receive email alerts if a convicted sex offender moves into those areas.
Cpl. Muriel Price, who maintains the sex offender registry for the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, fields many calls from parents of University of Georgia students.
“A lot of fathers who call are looking for safe places for their daughters to live,” Price said.
During this month’s compliance check, deputies were assisted by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents and state probation officers.
They arrested two offenders when they found they were living somewhere other than their registered addresses.
Tommy Lee McElhannon, 35, who was convicted of child molestation in 1999, had been listed as living in a trailer at Lot 2 at the Triple H Mobile Home park on Danielsville Road, but authorities arrested him when they found he was living in a trailer at Lot 3.
Lloyd Preston David Jr., 61, convicted of possession of child pornography in 2002, was arrested where he lived at a campsite off Hiawassee Avenue when his registered address was on Airport Road.
Authorities also took out warrants on offenders they couldn’t find.
Antron Lamont Ballard, 24, was convicted in 2006 on charges of peeping Tom and public indecency, but when authorities looked for him at his home on O’Kelly Road and he wasn’t there, they took out a probation violation warrant.
Another warrant was taken out for Michael Lee Bugg, 30, who was convicted of attempted rape in 2000 and had a registered address at Denney Towers on West Dougherty Street. Authorities learned that he had moved out without notifying the sheriff’s office.
Prior to this month’s compliance sweep, authorities already knew that six people had absconded and held warrants for their arrest.
Those people include Sukari Tamu Harris, 37, convicted in 1998 for enticing a minor for prostitution; Charles Dennis Harper, 51, convicted of incest in 2010; Anthony Lee Dye Jr., 27, convicted of aggravated child molestation and enticing a minor for indecent purposes in 2006; Oscar Boyzo, 45, convicted of sexual battery in 2009; and Sergio Albarron Ruiz, 29, convicted in 2008 of enticing a minor for indecent purposes.
The sixth person, 59-year-old Judith Ann Miracle, was convicted in 1993 of aggravated child molestation. She previously absconded from her registered address in Winterville, and after she failed to show up for a court hearing, her bail bondsman found her living in Hull and took her to jail on May 18.
The sex offender compliance checks didn’t just establish if people lived where they were supposed to, but whether they had any contraband, according to Cole.
That’s why GBI agents were involved, because they knew how to conduct forensic computer investigations.
“We seized three computers from registered sex offenders because we had probable cause they contained pornographic material, which would be in violation of their probation,” Cole said.
Authorities found pornography on two computers, but the third hadn’t been fully examined as of Friday, according to Cole.
The offenders who had forbidden images on their computers will be charged with probation violations, he said.