Parents in Lindenwood are up in arms after learning of three sexual offenders living in the area, including one located less than a block away from an elementary school.
According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), Jermaine Lee lives in an apartment complex on 153rd Avenue in Howard Beach, which is less than a block away from P.S. 232.
He is a level 3 sexual predator — the highest designation of sexual offense — meaning he poses a significant risk of a repeated violations, according to the DCJS. He was convicted on June 24, 1997 for first-degree sexual conduct against a child, when he had sexual intercourse with an eight-year-old female victim, and was sentenced to up to eight years in state prison.
“There are different rules for different levels of sexual offense,” said Kenneth Zorn, Community Affairs Officer for the 106th Precinct. “The gentleman in question was not prohibited from living near a school. We’re well aware of who’s where and if there’s an incident, we’ll look into it.”
According to the DCJS, the Sex Offender Registration Act does not restrict where a registered sex offender may live. However, if the offender is under parole or probation supervision, other New York State laws may prevent the offender from living within 1,000 feet of a school or other facilities caring for children.
“I’m disappointed. It’s too close for comfort,” said Tammy Greco, a Lindenwood mother of a one-year old. “I do understand that they need to live somewhere, and that they want to move on with their lives, but putting them very near a school doesn’t help them move forward in a different direction. It’s like putting an alcoholic in a bar and saying not to drink.”
Greco said she has reached out to multiple elected officials to try and change the law, “so that it’s a little more difficult for these individuals to live close to a school.”
“I know they’ve done their time and they want to do better, but allowing them to live so close to a school is an accident waiting to happen. It’s not good for them and it’s not good for our children,” Greco said.
The area is also home to two other registered sexual offenders — 52-year-old Noel Nieves of Ozone Park and 76-year-old Joseph Zito of Howard Beach.
Nieves was convicted on April 8, 2005 for rape in the third degree of a 16 year old, and was sentenced to probation for 10 years. He served six months in a local jail.
Zito is also a level 2 sex offender and was arrested by the FBI on February 24, 2006 for a non-New York State felony sex offense against a 13-year-old female.
He was sentenced to three years of probation and 70 months in state prison.