Sex offender re-arrested after alleged federal violation
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Police arrested a South Lake Tahoe man for the second time in two weeks Thursday for allegedly violating federal supervision requirements related to a 2007 child pornography conviction.
Joseph Scanio, 62, was arrested at his Wyoming Avenue home about 3 p.m. Thursday, said Sgt. Brian Williams in a statement.
Scanio was also arrested May 18 on suspicion of failing to register his address with police in accordance with sex offender requirements. The arrest arose from a police contact with Scanio May 16 at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena following a report of a suspicious person.
In January 2007, Scanio pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 46 months in prison after investigators discovered hundreds of sexually explicit photos of underage girls on a work computer used by Scanio.
Thursday’s arrest was made following a report of the incident at the ice arena to the U.S. Probation Office, Williams said.
“U.S. probation informed the police department Scanio had violated his probation by being present at the ice arena without authorization from USPO and for living within an area restricted from convicted sex offenders by the City of South Lake Tahoe,” Williams said.
The probation office is looking into additional issues which may constitute probation violations, Williams said.
The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office also plans to file a criminal complaint against Scanio for violations of the city’s sex offender ordinance, said Hans Uthe, assistant district attorney.
Scanio’s probation officer did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.
Scanio remained in custody at El Dorado County Jail in South Lake Tahoe Friday afternoon, but said he did not believe his presence at the ice arena was a violation of his probation during a Tuesday phone interview.
His probation prevents him from having contact with children under the age of 18 unless approved by a probation officer and forbids Scanio from loitering within 100 feet of places primarily used by children, according to court documents.
Scanio said he was at the ice arena watching his 9-year-old daughter.
“It wasn’t a situation where I was loitering with any intent whatsoever,” Scanio said. “This idea of me being a sexual predator is absurd.”
“I simply was there watching my daughter skate.”
Scanio’s attorney, deputy public defender Ken Bonham, said he was surprised by the May 18 arrest because the police knew where Scanio was living and had been to the residence at least two times.
Officers cited Scanio in July for violating the city’s sex offender ordinance for living at the Wyoming Avenue address. Scanio is in the process of challenging the violation and the legality of the city’s sex offender ordinance, Bonham said.
Although police knew where Scanio was living, his Wyoming Avenue address was not registered with police.
Scanio registered his the address with police after being released from jail following the May 18 arrest, Bonham said.
The city’s sex offender ordinance was enacted in September 2007 and prohibits sex offenders from being within 300 feet of areas frequented by children, including schools and day care centers. The ordinance also prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet those same areas.
The local ordinance came in response to the passage of California Proposition 83, also known as Jessica’s Law, in 2006.
The law’s residency restrictions have faced legal challenges in several jurisdictions around the state and trial courts have reached varying conclusions, Bonham said. The issue has yet to be addressed by the California Supreme Court.
Bonham criticized the city’s ordinance Friday, saying its restrictions are “vague and overly broad.” He questioned whether Scanio was really loitering at the ice arena and whether the arena is a place “primarily used by children.”
“There’s a lot of stuff in there that needs to be sorted out,” Bonham said.
There are some legal concerns surrounding how to enforce the residency restrictions on sex offenders, Uthe said. But Jessica’s law is designed to “engineer separation” between sexual predators and their targets, Uthe added.
Residency requirements in Jessica’s laws have equated to de facto ban on sex offenders in some cities, but said South Lake Tahoe isn’t among them, Uthe said.
He said the ice arena is primarily used by children and said he has “very, very little sympathy” for Scanio because he failed to properly comply with specific conditions of his probation that were spelled out to him upon his release from prison.
The District Attorney’s Office has not alleged that Scanio is a sexual predator, but the argument is beside the point, Uthe said.
“The ordinance apples to him whether he’s a predator or not.”