Four local men have received prison sentences on recent convictions of failing to comply with sex offense laws.
Eric Bunting, 44; Taron R. Anthony, 27, and William Leslie Johnson II, 55, all of New Bern; and Daryl Hill, 25, of Havelock pled guilty in Craven County Superior Court to charges against them.
Bunting was convicted of one count of failing to report an address change as a sex offender, District Attorney Scott Thomas said in a press release.
Bunting told the court that he had moved from his residence to where his girlfriend was staying because the water had been shut off at his registered address. He did not report the change to the Sheriff’s Office.
Bunting was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child in 2007, and is required to be on the North Carolina sex offender registry for a minimum of 10 years, Thomas said.
Each address change by a sex offender must be reported to the local sheriff’s office according to a strict timeline. Bunting was sentenced to prison for 30 to 45 months.
Anthony was convicted of one count of failing to report an address change as a sex offender. He was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child in 2006, and is required to be on the North Carolina sex offender registry for a minimum of 10 years, Thomas said.
Anthony was arrested while living with his girlfriend, but was still reporting his address at another location. He claimed that since he received his mail at the old address, he was still in compliance.
W. Heckman, an investigator in the case, told the court, “I get my mail at the post office, but that doesn’t mean I live there,” Thomas said.
Anthony was sentenced to prison for 20 to 33 months.
Bunting and Anthony were charged as a result of Operation Infinite Justice, a joint law enforcement operation that took place in March. The U.S. Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force, along with North Carolina Community Corrections (probation) officers, and the Carteret, Craven and Jones County Sheriff’s Offices, participated in a sweep to verify the compliance of 229 sex offenders in these three counties with the sex offender registry and residence laws.
Johnson was convicted of two counts of violating the sex offender registry laws: one count of failing to change or verify address, and residence violation by sex offender.
The investigation, led by the Craven County Sheriff’s office, revealed that Johnson, who had previously been convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child, was required to comply with the sex offender registry laws of North Carolina. But he changed his address in April, 2013, and did not immediately return his address verification letter. It was further found that Johnson was in fact living at an address near a daycare center, in violation of the residency requirements, Thomas said.
Johnson was sentenced to 26 to 41 months in prison.
Hill was convicted of four felony offenses: accessory after the fact to larceny; tampering with a satellite-based monitoring device; failing to report change of address as a sex offender; and fleeing to elude arrest, Thomas said.
The investigation by the Havelock Police Department, the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, and a Craven County probation officer, revealed that Hill was a getaway driver in a theft of a cell phone. He wrecked the car he was driving and fled on foot. Then he cut off the satellite-based monitoring device attached to his leg, Thomas said.
Hill failed to return to his registered address and failed to report the new address where he tried to live thereafter. Hill was previously convicted in 2010 of second-degree rape. He is subject to a lifetime participation in the sex offender registry and satellite-based monitoring.
Hill was given a 37- to 63-month prison sentence.
Each of these cases was prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Christy Hawkins.
Each defendant, upon his release from prison, will again have to register in his county of residence, and will be subject to the sex offender laws, including residence requirements. No registered sex offender may live within 1,000 feet of a public or nonpublic school or child care center, and no registered sex offender may work anywhere a minor is present and the offender would instruct, supervise or care for a minor.
“Sex offender registration laws are designed to protect citizens from convicted sex offenders,” Thomas said. “The laws enable citizens and law enforcement officers to know the location of sex offenders. The goals are public safety and protection. When offenders fail to register and comply, citizens are put at risk.”