April 23, 2014

Auto Burglary Arrest Leads to Discovery of Fugitive Sex Offender....But There is a Catch

Early Monday morning……(we’re talking 2:15 AM early) officers arrested a suspect who was breaking into City Water Department trucks parked in the City Hall complex.   The suspect, Mr. Joe Ray Greene, broke into the trucks and the tools boxes on the trucks. Here is Mr. Greene's booking photo. 

When officers confronted Mr. Greene, the fight was on!!!  Officers were able to contain Mr. Green and take him into custody.  We have arrested Mr. Greene twice prior for public intoxication in February and then earlier this month.   This is where it gets interesting:

After our last arrest, we learned that Mr. Greene is a convicted sex offender from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon.  In 2004, Joe Ray Greene was convicted in Tribal Court of child abuse and child rape after attacking two young boys.

Fast forward to 2014 where Mr. Greene is supposed to be registered as a sex offender on the Warm Springs Tribal lands.  He failed to register, and the Tribal courts issued a warrant for him.  Problem is….in short - Warms Springs is a sovereign tribal territory and they are exempt from Federal law which ordinarily would allow the States to have jurisdiction over Native American reservations.  In other words, State and local officers cannot serve the Tribal warrant for him.  The warrant is not recognized outside the Tribal lands.

We learned Mr. Greene was arrested in November 2013 by police in Portland, Oregon, for his failure to register.  The courts deemed they had to release him because of the lack of jurisdiction.    Somehow he landed in Santa Cruz.

Even more frustrating is that Tribal sex offender records don’t make it into the State database, so it is possible for them to go undetected once outside the lands of a sovereign Tribe.  We had no way of knowing how dangerous Mr. Greene is or his status status as a convicted sex offender during our prior two arrests of him.  How crazy is that!!!

The Oregonian newspaper wrote a nice piece on this.  You can find it here: 


Meanwhile….Locally, we are working in collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office to petition the Department of Justice, Sex Offender Assessment Unit.  We are asking them to review the case and see if there is any way we can gain jurisdiction over him and his failure to register as a sex offender here in California.

As of the writing of this, Mr. Greene remains in custody at the Santa Cruz County Jail for auto burglary and resisting arrest.  

Time for some lawmakers to go to work on fixing this dangerous loophole.