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Pedophile still living in neighborhood full of kids

March 8, 2012 9:38:56 AM PST
In a follow up to an Eyewitness News exclusive, three weeks ago, after Eyewitness News uncovered that a convicted pedophile was living in a neighborhood full of children, officials promised he'd be moved within days.

Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace discovered that still hasn't happened.

Everyone agrees that the paroled sex offender should never have been placed where he was.

The dilemma now is where to put him; no landlord wants to take him.

This is a growing problem in communities with convicted sex offenders who need emergency housing and there are no homeless shelters for them.

"I understand people don't want me," said Lance Smith, a convicted sex offender.

"You do understand," Wallace said.

"Yes," Smith said.

Paroled pedophile Lance Smith is still living in the same Carmel neighborhood where embarrassed officials now admit the Level 3 Sex offender should never have been placed.

His rented room in a multi-family home is within arm's reach of a day care, a nursery school, a children's learning center.

After Eyewitness News spoke with Smith Tuesday, a school bus dropped off kids directly in front of his house.

"Do you agree, at least, that this was a bad idea?" Wallace asked.

"Yes, so then we move on from there," said Mike Piazza, Putnam County's Social Services Commissioner.

"But just, shouldn't someone have figured out this was not where he should have been?" Wallace asked.

"Correct, and we will not make this mistake in the future," Piazza said.

Putnam County's Social services Commissioner now acknowledges no one in his office checked out the location for Smith in person, instead relying on the pedophile's parole officer.

The convicted sex offender was released on parole in January after serving seven years for sodomizing his own daughter and had nowhere to live.

The Commissioner says that's the case again as they try to fix the mistake.

"So you can't find a place for him?" Wallace asked.

"We can't find a place. We checked with 35 apartments that were available that we could tell and we checked with three brokers and we were not able to find a place," Piazza said.

Putnam County has no homeless shelters for sex offenders, like Smith, and that's not unusual.

The commissioner thinks counties like his may have to start thinking outside the box.

"One of the things that we would not want to see is that parolees would be wandering because they don't have a place to live," Piazza said.

"You might want to put temporary housing on a county property," Wallace said.

"Correct," Piazza replied.

"They claim they are trying to find a place for you but they can't. You do understand why people don't want you, right?" Wallace asked.

"I know," Smith answered.

What worries residents are that many thought Smith had been moved, as officials had promised after our first report.

"People think he's gone and that lulls them into a false sense of security, they may lower their guard," said Eliza Quatrrucci, a resident.

"If people lower their guard, they may let their children outside, go out on the swing set, which they might not do if they knew he was living next door," said Mary Rodda, a resident.

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If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com.

Follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimhoffer.wabc

Follow Sarah Wallace on Twitter at twitter.com/swinvestigates and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sarahwallace.wabc

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