BREAKING: FCSO Loses Control of Sex Offenders in Forsyth County


March 8, 2014

This is not a newspaper so let’s cut to the chase.  Yesterday I predicted a big FCSO news story would hit the media in the next 30 days.  I did not have the slightest idea they were going to blow themselves up with a scandal.  

Sex offenders in Forsyth County have been improperly accounted for.  No telling how long this has been going on.  For sure, Schatzman KNEW he had a problem in November 2013 when he fired and frogwalked Jim Gilmore out of the FCSO building.  Since that time, it seems he’s been trying to keep things quiet…assigning new folks to clean up the mess…threatening to fire anyone who talks.

As of April 8, 2014 there are five wanted sex offenders listed on the FCSO website.  All but one listed the fired employee “Jim Gilmore” as
having prepared the documents. Three investigating officers are
listed…Gargiulo, Reid and Davenport. 

 




According to confidential sources, a deputy encountered a sex offender in noncompliance in or around November 2013.  Sexual offenders who fail to register, fail to notify sheriff of change of address, fail to return a verification notice or force or submit information under false pretenses are guilty of a Class F felony.  The deputy secured an arrest warrant and the offender was subsequently located and arrested.  As the case approached the Trial Stage, Forsyth County District Attorney’s office reviewed the prosecution report and noticed the 13 page sex offender acknowledgement document was not properly executed by the Sheriff’s Office and refused to prosecute, dismissing the case.  This careless and reckless investigation conducted by the FCSO allowed the sex offender to return to our community without regard for punishment or re-offending.  This put Sex offender number one “on the loose” so to speak.  By virtue of Gilmore’s termination, the problem appears to be more than just a onetime error and sources acknowledge a very high percentage of sex offender files are incomplete, inaccurate or incorrect.  A confidential source has acknowledged the staff at FCSO has been reviewing and correcting the sex offender files for months, leaving little time to concentrate on compliance of the counties 489+ sex offenders.

We do not know how many of the at least 489 Forsyth County sex offenders are improperly registered or the extent of the damage done by Gilmore and the FCSO.  What we do know is that state law has not been enforced to the District Attorney’s satisfaction, at least one arrest warrant was denied, Gilmore was fired, the information submitted by FCSO to the national sex offender registry is most likely incorrect, convicted sex offenders are not being properly monitored, and it appears Schatzman tried to cover it up. 

Forsyth County has had issues with the Sheriff’s office administration of Forsyth County sex
offenders since before 2010.  Concerns over the lack of attention and manpower assigned to supervise compliance of sex offenders came up during the 2010 election.  These concerns were addressed by the incumbent as unfounded and under control.

During my recent interview with Dave Griffith, we spoke about FCSO lack of attention to sex offenders in 2010 and whether this lack of concern manifests itself today.  This interview took place prior to today’s information coming to light. The following question was presented to Griffith:   

The 2010
election brought to light a lack of FCSO attention to Sex offenders in Forsyth
County.    At that time, the sex offender unit was staffed
with one full time investigator and two part time deputies.  The sheriff’s current organization chart
does not appear to have changed. 
Citizens were upset about the lack of attention to these crimes in
2010.  Has the situation improved during
the last four years?

Griffith did not mince words with his answer (bold mine):
The situation has not improved.  It has declined.  Not only has the incumbent refused to increase his attention to
sex offenders in
Forsyth County, he has purposefully declined to participate in an aggressive
plan to coordinate a sex offender
task force.  A plan was put together
that would have provided a 15 member team at no cost to FCSO.  D.A. Jim Oneil, WSPD Chief Scott Cunningham
and the U.S. Marshal Service approved this plan. Our sheriff, however, refused to cooperate and chose to continue
monitoring sex offenders
with his one full time and 2 part-time staff. 
In the process, he put Forsyth County children at risk
. 

For the record and with utmost respect for Dave Griffith, I submit that our sheriff does have a plan.  It is called a “disclaimer.”  He has it front and center on his county website.  His plan is to take no responsibility for inaccuracies in FCSO’s
information or FCSO’s mistakes in administrating the sex offender registry. 
Specifically, the disclaimer reads :

“The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.”  

NC Attorney General’s Office Stats

Well, I guess not.  Who would expect a county agency with 40+ million dollar budget to keep up with the compliance of 483 sex offenders..

Griffith spoke of a multi-agency plan during his interview.   Specifically, Schatzman turned down the exact program implemented by Carteret, Craven, and Jones Counties North Carolina. County Sheriff’s working in collaboration with the US Marshal Service and the NC Fugitive Task Force, verified the compliance of registered sex offenders in their counties by visiting the homes of 229 sex offenders,  They made 8 arrests, seized three firearms, and opened additional investigations.  

Upon completion of the three county initiative, Scott J. Parker, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of North
Carolina stated:  “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 ensure that the community
and children of Eastern North Carolina are safe from sex offenders
.”  District Attorney Scott Thomas said, “I would like to thank U.S.
Marshal Scott Parker, his staff and all agencies involved in this
special operation.  Working together we can maximize our efforts to
protect citizens from sex offenders and the conduct in which they
engage.  Our sex offender registration laws are only as effective as our
ability to enforce compliance with them.  Compliance checks send the
clear message to offenders that law enforcement officers are closely
monitoring their actions.  Violators will not be ignored, they will be
prosecuted.”  

Unfortunately our FCSO does not send this same message but exactly the opposite.  It appears to be open season for sex offenders in Forsyth County complicated by evidence of a lack of enforcement, improper monitoring, and failure to insure compliance to state statue by sex offenders.

According to the US Marshal’s website, neighboring Guilford County working in collaboration with multiple agencies implemented a November 2013 fugitive round up and sex offender compliance check.  This occurred at approximately the same time, FCSO found out their sex offender records were jacked up.  

When Forsyth County had the opportunity, our sheriff refused to participate.   Once again, let us not forget, on board with a multi agency initiative to protect Forsyth County were the Winston Salem Police Department, Kernersville Police Department,  the Forsyth County District Attorney’s office, the NC Fugitive Task Force and the US Marshals Service.    Because of the sheriffs refusal to participate or grant approval, this FREE OF CHARGE initiative could not and did not take place. 

Meanwhile Forsyth County residents have been put in danger multiple times.  First by sloppy police work, poor officer training, and failure to properly supervise sex offenders in Forsyth County.  The second time by a sheriff refusing to participate in a multi-agency program meant to root out noncompliance and enforce sex offender laws.  The third time by a sheriff trying to HIDE his departmental screw up without informing the public of the increased risk in our county.  Not to mention the huge risk of unsupervised sex offenders roaming the streets out of compliance and possibly off law enforcement radar.

I don’t know what to say.  This is so bad, words do not suffice.  I feel completely unprotected by this man we call “sheriff.”  Considering the falling productivity of his department and lack of enforcement across the board, untenable attrition rates and reduction in staff, lack of proper training and experience on the force, and now this…this ridiculously stupid failure to properly keep up with dangerous sex offenders even as outside agencies were offering to help for FREE.

These actions of the Sheriff and FCSO are sending the wrong message to sex offenders.  “FCSO will not be held responsible for non compliant sex offenders.  FCSO will NOT participate in multi-agency collaboration because I don’t want to get caught improperly managing sex offenders or failing to enforce state law.  My first responsibility is to protect MYSELF with secondary consideration to protect Forsyth County citizens, particularly children, from registered sex offenders.”  

Have we simply wasted $40 million dollars on this failed agency or what?  It is beyond my comprehension the apparent lack of leadership, the lack of concern for public safety, the lack of accountability.  Schatzman has had three terms to find a solution, make a plan, and execute a plan to properly address sex offenders in Forsyth County.  A fourth term is NOT the answer.

 I pray that not one child was damaged by the incompetence exhibited by our sheriff.  

Dave Griffith has been clear.  He intends to make all sex offenders in Forsyth County compliant with NC state law.  He has promised to take advantage of multi-agency initiatives through the US Marshal Service and Fugitive Task Force while working work in collaboration with County offices.  It will be a priority in his administration.

It is time for change.  Vote Dave Griffith for Sheriff May 6.  Forsyth County children are depending on you.

As additional information surfaces, I will update this article.  Encourage the media to pick up this story, ie. WXII, Fox 8, Winston Salem Journal, SBI, FBI.  Forget the sheriff’s race for the time being.  Somehow we have got to get a handle on the sex offender situation in Forsyth County.  We have to protect our kids.  It is too late to trust Schatz…he needs to be motivated by bad press.

Copyright ©Sandra Robles

More articles on Dave Griffith here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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