Law enforcement officers from seven counties joined Kentucky State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service last week to conduct a sex offender compliance check throughout the area. The effort was called “Operation Big Sandy.” Sheriff Dale Richardson advised that of the 276 residence checks, 25 were in Knott County.
Sheriff Richardson explained the operation was the “brain child” of the U.S. Marshals Service. “It’s a nationwide effort in hopes of giving local law enforcement the opportunity to get involved and assist them. We’ re all trying to ensure that offenders are doing what’s required, and our goal is that no other child will fall victim to such crimes,” he said.
In addition to officers from the Knott County Sheriff’s Department, county and city agencies in Floyd, Johnson, Letcher, Martin, Perry and Pike counties had officers participating in the August 1-2 compliance check.
One offender from Knott County is now considered a fugitive. Bryan Patrick Williams listed his address as 45 Tuttle Drive in Kite, Ky., but could not be located when officers visited local homes. Sheriff Richardson related that Williams moved to Knott County from North Carolina, where he was convicted of indecent liberties with a 15-year-old. Williams, age 33, is a white male with brown hair and blue eyes, is five feet, six inches tall and weighs 170 pounds.
Another offender whose last reported address could not be verified is from Johnson County. Jason Carl Wheeler, 35, convicted of second-degree sodomy of a 12-year-old child, is also considered a fugitive. Anyone with information on either of these men should contact their local law enforcement officials.
“Everything went smoothly here. Everyone we checked on was compliant, with the exception of the fugitive who moved here – we weren’t aware of him and haven’t seen him. There was a marijuana plant growing in a flower pot on the porch of one residence; that person was charged,” Sheriff Richardson told the Times.
Seventy-six of the registered sex offenders targeted in “Operation Big Sandy” actually moved to Kentucky after convictions in other states.
According to Sheriff Richardson, there were 22 arrests during the operation. Eleven registered sex offenders were arrested for being non-compliant; these were not residing at their registered address as required. Five additional offenders are currently under investigation for non- compliance.
Two subjects were charged with violating the social networking statute by having Facebook accounts. Under this statute, registered sex offenders are prohibited from using social networking sites or in- stant messaging/chat room programs that could be accessible to minors.
Two registered sex offenders were arrested for possession of weapons by a convicted felon. Five weapons were seized.
Two registered sex offenders were determined to be fugitives from other states (Ohio and Virginia). Both were arrested on out- of-state warrants. Four offenders were arrested on charges not related to their sex offender registration requirements.
Five of the sex offenders included in the compliance check were located in local jails, and three were reported to be deceased.
Also during the residence check, one subject who is not a sex offender was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
“Operation Big Sandy” was one of eight such efforts recently undertaken in Kentucky, covering 41 counties and involving 1,872 compliance checks.