Lee Deputies work to track down transient sex offenders who fail to register

Reporter: Corey Lazar Producer: Robin Wolf
Published: Updated:

“Lee County Sheriff’s Office! Lee County Sheriff’s Office!” screamed a deputy while walking through the woods.

The area is a known homeless camp. Lee County Deputies police the area, as well as under overpasses and in parking lots, looking for sexual predators and offenders.

“There isn’t a front door that you knock on. It’s woods; it’s an intersection; and that can change,” explained Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

Marceno told WINK News Anchor Corey Lazar the problem of transient sexual predators and offenders got worse after Hurricane Ian.

“Post Hurricane Ian, what did that mean to us? Obviously, we had pure devastation,” added the Sheriff. “People coming from all over to work. We had an influx of transient people that came here. Now, that’s a challenge in itself, right. So, if someone’s here, we don’t know who they are, that could be an issue. It’s a safety issue.”

It’s a safety issue facing our entire community and one the sheriff’s office tackles head on. Lazar rode along with Sergeant Erik Hurd who works in the Sex Offender Predator Unit with LCSO.

“All produce an excuse. They don’t know, they accidentally provided us with wrong information,” said Hurd.

“We enforce every single day to make sure that those who have broken the
law—these offenders and predators—are not out preying on other people.” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno

Sgt. Hurd’s team has one big mission – to locate every transient convicted of a sex crime in the county – who fails to register.

“Their information changes a lot. So, by the time I send my detectives out there, they go, they make contact, they relocate immediately,” explained the Sergeant. “So now we have to go back out there, look for them again, make contact with them again, confirm that information again. And then they relocate again.”

By law, transient sex offenders and predators still must register. In fact, they must check in with law enforcement every 30 days and update their location. Their address could be under the overpass at Interstate 75 and Palm Beach Boulevard or hidden in the woods near your neighborhood.

Lee sex offenders
Homeless camp, Credit: WINK News

“Walmart used to allow overnight parking. And that’s something that they utilize. That’s a loophole that they utilize,” stated Hurd. “We go out there at night, and we find them. We work with Walmart. We look at the security cameras.”

Lionel Pastoriza listed just such an address. He was convicted of lewd and lascivious battery in 2007. LCSO launched a mission to track him down when he did not check in after December.

“Because this particular transient offender, he doesn’t have a cell phone. So, we can’t call them and say, okay, harder to track down,” said Detective Corey Edmond.

In March, Detective Corey Edmond learned Pastoriza had a car registered to him. Edmond used license plate readers to track down Pastoriza.

Lee sex offenders
License plate reader, Credit: WINK News

Shawn Shaffer is also a convicted sex offender who deputies said tried to fly under the radar by lying about where he was staying. Eventually, they tracked him down to a relative’s home which was within 2,500 feet of Mariner Middle School in Cape Coral.

To track sex offenders and predators living near you:

  • Through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, you can register your address and set up alerts if someone moves within a one mile radius of your home or get an alert for a specific person.
  • You can do a neighborhood search which allows you to identify people within up to a five mile radius.
  • Transients are identified on the search map using tents. Blue means transient offender. Red is for transient predators.
FDLE Sex Offender/Predator map

Lazar attempted to contact the convicted men named in this article, but was unable to reach them.

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