Law enforcement personnel from local and federal agencies conducted an operation on Tuesday that resulted in the apprehension of three sex offenders who had not registered their status, V.I. Attorney General Denise George announced.
Special agents from the Department of Justice’s Special Investigations Division, program territorial investigator from the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, took the men into custody after executing arrest warrants signed by V.I. Superior Court Judge Daryl D. Donohue.
The men – 26-year-old Omari Horton, 58-year-old Felipe Felix, and 60-year-old Wayne Graham – were each charged with a single count of failure to register as a sex offender. Bail for each was set at $25,000.
According to the police report, the Virgin Islands enacted its first sex offender registration statute in 1997, and in 2006 the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 was enacted by Congress. Title I of that act is known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA. This act established a new baseline standard for states to track sex offenders, which required more unity and cooperation amongst jurisdictions in the registration and notification process.
DOJ periodically conducts address-verification sweeps of sexual offenders who reside, attend school and work in the territory, the news release said.
Within three business days of arriving at a new location, a registered sexual offender must notify the DOJ of his/her name, residence, temporary lodging information, vehicle information, Internet identifiers, telephone numbers, school information and employment status.
On July 18, 2012, amendments were made to the local sex offender statute and the Sexual Offender Registration and Community Protection Act was signed into law in the Virgin Islands.
Registered sexual offenders in the territory can be prosecuted for either failing to register or not keeping their registration current, as required by this law, and if convicted, the penalty is a fine of not less than $3,000 nor more than $5,000, or imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than two years, or both. The law also provides that it is an offense to assist a sex offender to evade the registration requirements, which carries a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000, or imprisonment for nxot more than six months, or both.