U.S. Marshals launch ‘Operation Dunder Mifflin’, arrest eight previously convicted sex offenders

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SCRANTON, PA-
According to reports, the United States Marshals Service led a multiagency effort called “Operation Dunder Mifflin” to verify addresses of registered sex offenders in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The operation was apparently named after the hit sitcom, “The Office,” which takes place at a fictional paper company named Dunder Mifflin in Scranton. Despite the operation’s name, the mission was serious.

In a news release, United States Marshal Martin J. Pane announced the results of the operation, stating that:

“Between August 2nd and September 17th, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) coordinated with the Scranton Police Department, supported by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Megan’s Law Section, to verify the registered home addresses of 219 registered sex offenders living in and around Scranton.

Thirteen of these offenders were found to be in violation of sex offender registration laws. Nine were arrested and four were sought for the violations.”

Eight of those arrested were men and one was a woman, all between 22 and 48 years old. The persons were previously convicted of crimes ranging from indecent assault, sexual abuse of children, statutory rape, corruption of minors, sexual abuse, and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Those arrested include:

22-year-old Evan Bolthosue, a Scranton man who was required to register for a conviction of Indecent Assault;

39-year-old Israel Capeless-Medina, a Scranton man who was required to register for a conviction of Indecent Assault;

44-year-old Christopher Cigna, a Scranton Man who was required to register for a conviction of Sexual Abuse of Children;

41-year-old Heather Laracuente-Ellingwood, a Scranton woman who was required to register for a conviction of Statutory Rape in New York;

24-year-old Joseph Mauer, a Scranton man who was required to register for a conviction of Corruption of Minors;

35-year-old Charles Prymock, a Scranton man who was required to register for a conviction of Indecent Assault;

48-year-old Dale Thomas, a Scranton man who was required to register for a conviction of Indecent Assault;

43-year-old Kevin Sanford, a Scranton man who was required to register for Sexual Abuse in New York; and

53-year-old Ronald Williams, a Scranton man who was required to register for a conviction of Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse.

Pane said in a statement:

“The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 designated the USMS as the federal agency responsible for helping local and state authorities locate and arrest convicted sex offenders who fail to comply with the Megan’s Law requirements.”

He added:

“It’s a mission that receives top priority and constant attention within our agency.”

Scranton Chief of Police Leonard A. Namiotka said in a statement:

“This joint operation was successful in ensuring those required to register remain compliant and those who are in violation are brought before the court to answer for their non-compliance.”

He added:

“The cooperation between the Scranton Police Department and our law enforcement partners is paramount in making our community safe for all citizens.”

Operation Dunder Mifflin was supported by Pennsylvania State Police Megan’s Law Section, which requires authorities to provide information to the public on registered sex offenders living, working, or studying in the state.

The law was put in place following the 1994 slaying of 7-year-old Megan Kanka, whose sexual assault and death led to a nationwide movement to protect children from sexual predators.

The 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires sex offenders to register with the National Sex Offender Registry and update their registration when they travel or move.

Those with information about the four being sought for violations or other fugitives were asked to contact the U.S. Marshals at 1-800-336-0102 or [email protected]

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Parents take down sex offender after catching him standing inside 5 year old daughter’s bedroom

July 11th, 2021

GRAYSON, CA – The parents of a 5-year-old girl reportedly found and subdued a registered sex offender that was allegedly standing in their young daughter’s bedroom earlier in July.

Authorities say that the mother and father restrained the sex offender with duct tape and awaited the arrival of sheriff’s deputies.

Officials say the incident transpired during the morning of July 6th, when the parents of the young girl saw a man, later identified as 39-year-old Daniel Diaz, prowling around the perimeter of their household, and peering through windows while allegedly touching himself.

Martha Zepeda, the 5-year-old girl’s mother, spoke with a local news crew about Diaz’s alleged actions before breaking into the home:

“He was in the living room window trying to peek in and he was grabbing his private parts and just looking around.”

The young girl’s father had apparently lost sight of the suspect that was purportedly peering through the windows, but eventually heard a loud noise coming from their five year old daughter’s bedroom. Diaz had reportedly removed the screen off of the young girl’s window and had crawled into the home.

Ceci Ramirez, the 5-year-old’s older sister, said that when Diaz turned on the lights inside of the bedroom, her sister became frightened:

“The man turned on the lights and that’s when my sister woke up and she got scared.”

The father of the house was said to have rushed Diaz and eventually forced him outside of the home, where he reportedly got the suspect to the ground and both he and his wife used duct tape to restrain him as they awaited the arrival of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies.

It would be later discovered that Diaz is a registered sex offender, holding a prior conviction from 2009 of assault with intent to commit rape, having been released from prison in 2018.

Diaz is now facing charges of child endangerment, home invasion, and peeping and prowling. His bond is currently set at $350,000 for the charges, but is also being held without bail for a violation of parole, according to jail records

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Back in February, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report about a 42-year-old previously convicted sex offender that was sentenced over four decades in prison for producing “sexually explicit” photos of a child in his custody. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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TAMPA, FL – In a press release from the Department of Justice, a 42-year-old previously convicted sex offender had been sentenced on February 18th to 45 years in federal prison for, “producing sexually explicit photographs of a seven-year-old child in his custody,” while having failed to register as a sex offender in the process. 

The convicted sex offender was identified as Adam Hollis of Polk County, who apparently has a history of crimes involving the dissemination of child pornography and sexually abusing children. 

Back in 2000, Hollis was reportedly convicted of, “directing/promoting the sexual performance of a child by distributing child-exploitative images using America Online,” according to the DOJ. 

Hollis was also reportedly convicted in Polk County back in 2014 for sexual battery on a child. 

This latest case, where Hollis reportedly plead guilty to back in November of 2020, stems from his felonious exploits from January of 2013. 

From what the DOJ wrote about the case, Hollis had abused two different victims – one a 7-year-old, deaf child and also an 8-year-old child – and proceeded to produce explicit materials of the 7-year-old and shared them online: 

“Hollis advertised, produced, and distributed sexually explicit images of a deaf, seven-year-old child to whom he had access. Hollis also molested that child, in addition to sexually abusing another eight-year-old child.”

Apparently, Hollis would groom his victims by having them watch pornography with him, as well as threatening the victims that if they ever told anyone about his exploits then their mother would lose custody of them. 

During Hollis’ dissemination of child pornography online, investigators found that he was leveraging these produced materials to trade with other child pornographers online: 

“Hollis advertised, created, and traded these child sex-abuse images using the internet, in part, so that he could add to his personal collection of child exploitation materials, which consisted of more than 250 images and more than 80 videos.”

Adam Hollis - Polk County Sheriff's Office
Adam Hollis – Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Homeland Security Investigations’ Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Micah McCombs had the following to say about the recent sentencing: 

“This criminal deviant committed the most horrible atrocities on young, helpless children. This sentencing ensures this repeat child predator will spend the rest of his natural life in prison.”

The case against Hollis was investigated by both the HSI and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

On top of the 45-year prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday also added a 20-year term of supervised release following his incarceration.   

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We at Law Enforcement Today recently shared a report earlier in July about a father in Colorado who is taking it upon himself to track down child predators. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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COLORADO – A father based out of southern Colorado has taken it upon himself to stop the likes of child predators that target minors online through various dating apps, citing that the inspiration for his work stems from there needing to be more done to combat online predators.

His work has reportedly led to numerous arrests in Colorado.

Thomas Fellows runs the YouTube channel Colorado Ped Patrol, where he takes it upon himself to pose a minor online to identify and arrange meetings with predators who believe they’re about to hook up with underage girls or boys.

Fellows spoke with a local news crew about his methods on catching these predators:

“I go on a dating app called Grindr. I never reach out to these people. They reach out to me first. They ask me my age and I tell them I’m 13 and they are supposed to block me and have me banned.”

Fellows says that while some users on the platform do the appropriate thing and block his profile that says he’s a minor, many users do not and continue to talk to him through the platform.

When asked how long it usually takes before one of these men ask to meet up, Fellows said it can be as quickly as 30 minutes from when they first interact with him:

“Sometimes it’s within 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s a couple of days. Sometimes it starts with a conversation, then nude photos and then wanting to meet within 30 minutes.”

When the meetings are arranged and the suspect actually shows up, Fellows greets the men with his camera and copies of the chat log while confronting them on why they’re arranging to meet minors online.

While what Fellows is doing is certainly noble, there is still an element of danger. Fellows noted that at time, some of the suspects arrived at the location while armed with weapons:

“We have had situations where they did show up with weapons. Honestly, I think we have a little bit of a benefit because we let them know we are not law enforcement. We let them know we can get them counseling and some type of help.”

One of the things that Fellows cited as a serious concern is the prevalence of predators online, noting that in his four months of doing this work, he’s managed to catch 90 men looking to hook up with underage children.

 

He also added that one of the most common excuses he hears from the men he catches is that it’s “always their first time” contacting a minor for sex when he confronts them:

“It’s always their ‘first time’ and a lot of times they’ll say they were just going to be friends and tell them that they shouldn’t be doing this even though these men sent nasty pictures and said they want to do these nasty things.”

Out of the 35 coordinated sting operations that Fellows has conducted, he said roughly two dozen have ended with people being arrested.

One of the more recent arrests accomplished by Fellows’ work related to a man that had already been arrested over a year earlier for allegedly trying to entice children online.

The man arrested earlier in June was identified as 42-year-old Robert Elliott, who already has a case pending from a December 2019 arrest for internet luring of a child and child sex assault.

Elliott’s June 2021 arrest saw him charged with internet luring of a child, sexual exploitation of a child and internet sexual exploitation of a child.

Even though Fellow’s work has resulted in many arrests, he has reportedly gotten some mixed feedback from law enforcement agencies on his activities.

Reportedly, some law enforcement agencies are more than happy to arrest the people he busts on his YouTube channel, while others apparently do not get involved with any facet of his work.

Vigilante groups targeting online predators has been a growing trend over the past few years across the country, with law enforcement officials and prosecutors expressing concerns not only for the general safety of participants – but also the lack of formal training these vigilante groups have in investigating these sorts of crimes.

In Indiana, where many similar groups targeting predators have cropped up, Elkhart County Prosecutor Vickey Becker is among those that thinks the public should leave these efforts to the police:

“While these groups may have the best intentions in mind…Law enforcement officials are the only ones qualified to conduct these kinds of investigations.

“Having gone through extensive training, these officials know the right techniques in collecting and preserving the evidence that is necessary to prosecute these kinds of cases and ensuring that an investigation is done objectively, and professionally, respecting the constitutional rights of suspects.”

Indiana-based Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann mirrored the sentiments of, Elkhart County Prosecutor Becker, highlighting that these groups tactics could lead to legitimately guilty people walking free due to how they may run these independent stings:

“When citizens take matters into their own hands, it can usually be harmful to a successful prosecution, leading to someone who may well have been guilty walking free.

“Vigilantes also open themselves up to potential lawsuits for libel and slander should the person they are going after decide to bring a lawsuit.”

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