Feds indict four sex offenders for failure to register

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Federal prosecutors are taking a tough stance against convicted sex offenders who fail to register their address.

Inside the United States Attorney's office, at a table in the reference library, prosecutors said Thursday that keeping track of convicted sex offenders has become a point of emphasis.

"They are required to register," U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi said of sex offenders. "We feel it is important that they register, and we're going to make sure that they do."

Driving home that point, investigators said, were four federal indictments handed up Wednesday.  Four West Tennessee men - Scott Ables, James Degroat, Donald Wright, and John Hamilton - face charges of failure to register as a convicted sex offender.

Failing to register is a federal offense because of a the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, enacted in 2006.  

Mick Orr of the United States Marshals Service said he has two deputy marshals assigned to Memphis that are dedicated to tracking down sex offenders to state.

"They are specifically dedicated to the investigation of these kind of offenses," he said.

Orr said his marshals specialize in offenders that move from state to state.

"We now have the tools to ensure that these people that don't register don't fall through the bureaucratic cracks in the system, so that they can be accounted for," he said.

Laurenzi said convicted sex offenders have one option.

"If you've been convicted of a sex offense and you're not registered, you better register. You better do it quick," he said.

If convicted for failing to register, the four men indicted Thursday face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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