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For Immediate Release

March 1, 2010 Sr. Inspector William Taylor

Southern District of Ohio

(937) 225-2917

Operation Neighborhood Watch—Eastern borders called a success

Columbus, Ohio – The U.S. Marshals of the Southern District of Ohio and its state and local law enforcement partners concluded Operation Neighborhood Watch-Eastern Borders Friday in Lawrence County, and authorities are calling it success.

“It’s a major victory any time we arrest an individual who poses a threat to our communities, especially to innocent children,” said Interim United States Marshal Cathy Jones. “Operation Neighborhood Watch was executed to send a message to sex offenders who aren’t in compliance with the law—register or go to jail.”

On Friday, Feb. 26, authorities sent the latter message by arresting Robert Hoke. Ironically, Hoke was not listed on the “noncompliant list.” However, authorities were able to prove he had moved without notifying the Sheriff’s Office.  Hoke was found living in a home with a 9-year-old girl. Following his arrest, the investigation led to the filing of additional rape charges on behalf of the child.  “Without our combined efforts during this operation, this 9-year-old child may have endured more abuse,” said Operation Commander Deputy United States Marshal Nicole Ralston.

Authorities conducted 105 compliance checks in Lawrence County. They determined that 90 offenders were in compliance with their sex offender registration requirements; 10 were noncompliant; 3 still need additional follow-up; and 2 were incarcerated. Six arrests were made and three firearms were seized.

Overall, the operation, which began in September 2009 and covered eight Eastern Ohio border counties including Belmont, Jefferson, Monroe, Athens, Washington, Meigs, Gallia, and Lawrence,  targeted a total of 624 sex offenders. Out of 624 offenders, 48 were found to be noncompliant and 32 arrests were made.