Sheriff looks to clarify ‘gray areas’ after 4th sex offender arrest near NC State Fair

RALEIGH, N.C. – Law enforcement working to keep the 2015 North Carolina State Fair safe caught four registered sex offenders near restricted areas.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said law enforcement set up a three to five mile perimeter around the fair to watch sex offenders nearing the midway.

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Sex offenders wearing tracking anklets were watched once they entered that perimeter.

Harrison said if an offender got within 300 feet of “kiddie land,” they would be arrested.

“We got two of them that had ankle bracelets,” Harrison said. “I think the four we arrested up near kiddie land compared to the million we had, that’s pretty good. Did we miss some? Possibly.”

Charles Stokes was arrested Oct. 22 after he got too close to restricted areas, law enforcement said. Stokes was convicted of indecent liberties with a minor in Guilford County in 2012, according to the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry.

Bobby Joe Snyder, 37, was arrested Oct. 24 at the intersection of Trinity and Blue Ridge roads after authorities tracked him.

Harrison said there is a grey area concerning where sex offenders can and can’t go at fair and he hopes the attorney general will clarify it.

“My concern is there are a lot of games on the midway, primarily for kids,” Harrison said.

He he wants to know if he’s on legal ground to expand the sex offender zone to areas like that on the midway.

“I want an attorney general’s ruling and even go to the state legislature and clarify this,” Harrison said.

The sheriff department said it also runs background checks on as many of the ride operators and those working games to make sure they don’t have sex offender employees.

Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita asked for the judge to raise Snyder’s bond Monday. She said Snyder is a “habitual felon” and was just released from jail Sept. 9.

He is now being held under a $250,000 bond instead of $50,000.

On Oct. 21, registered sex offender Tyrone Szabo was arrested after authorities said he was posing as a ride inspector.

Another man, Matthew Kenning, was caught flying a drone over the fair on Oct. 21., officials said.

Kenning was a registered sex offender for offenses committed in Indiana.

Search the North Carolina Offender Registry.

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