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Riverside man charged with harassing sex offender

10-7-2010 New York:

A Riverside man’s anger with a registered sex offender living and working at an area motel has landed him in Southampton Town Justice Court, where he faces second-degree harassment charges after he allegedly confronted the sex offender outside a local deli this summer.

The violation charge stems from a July 31 incident involving the two men—Kevin Zorn of Riverside and Ralph Blasi, a Level 3 sex offender now living and working at the Budget Host East End in Riverside—outside of Marta’s Deli near the hamlet’s traffic circle.

According to a complaint filed with the State Police by Mr. Blasi shortly after the incident, Mr. Zorn allegedly bumped his chest against Mr. Blasi, spit on him and cursed at him.

“I said ‘Drop the candy and let the little girls go,’” said Mr. Zorn, recalling the words he told Mr. Blasi outside the deli that day.

Mr. Zorn said this week that he worked with Mr. Blasi in the landscaping business for several months and, at the time, knew him as “Ralph Smith.” He said Mr. Blasi started working at the motel in the spring and, sometime after that, learned that Mr. Smith was actually Mr. Blasi, a Level 3 sex offender—a designation given to offenders with the highest likelihood of reoffending. Mr. Blasi was convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old girl in 2009 and served a year in prison, according to state records.

“I am fuming,” Mr. Zorn said of the idea of a released sex offender working in a motel. “My blood pressure was so sky high.”

Ever since learning his former co-worker’s true identity, Mr. Zorn has harassed Mr. Blasi off and on over the past three months, according to the complaint filed by Mr. Blasi with State Police.

In a separate interview, Mr. Blasi gave a different version of events. He said Mr. Zorn gave him work after he got out of jail, adding that Mr. Zorn always knew of his status as a registered sex offender. According to Mr. Blasi, Mr. Zorn is angry because he will no longer work for him.

“When I got out of jail, he knew my story,” said Mr. Blasi, who now works in the motel’s maintenance department. “He trusted that I didn’t do that [crime] and hooked me up with work for about a year. I used to work for him for $40 a day, and now I don’t do that no more. He got all upset.”

On August 11, Mr. Zorn plastered dozens of red posters that stated “Police Alert: Sexual Offender Level 3 Works and Lives at the Budget Hotel” on trees and telephone poles surrounding the traffic circle in Riverside.

“He thinks he’s going to harass me out of town,” said Mr. Blasi, who noted that he has been living at the motel since May. “He said he would ‘threaten me every day until I’m dead. I won’t stop until you’re out of this town.’

“I have no problem with the fliers,” added Mr. Blasi, noting that his friends took down most of them. “But when you spit in my face? I’m just trying to live with [my conviction]—there’s nothing I can do.”

But Mr. Zorn, who is scheduled to return to Southampton Town Justice Court on Tuesday, October 12, at 9 a.m., on the harassment charge, believes that he is doing his civic duty. “There’s kids and there’s a swimming pool there,” he said of the motel. “I was making a public alert.”

According to State Trooper Richard Gant, Mr. Zorn did not violate the state’s sex offender registry law when he put up the posters near the traffic circle, explaining that the registry lists the same information on its website. Still, Trooper Gant said Mr. Blasi could still claim that the incident constituted harassment, though he has never filed a complaint about the posters with police.

Mr. Blasi said he originally started living at the Budget Host East End on Suffolk County’s social services voucher plan. While staying there, he learned that motel management needed help with painting and other odd jobs, and he accepted a job as a maintenance man. He said he now makes enough to live there on his own.

“I’m working, so I can stay there,” said Mr. Blasi, adding that his home address is registered with the police, as is required by state law. “I’m painting, raking up leaves and taking out garbage.”

Mr. Blasi said that while his boss has been understanding of the situation, the ongoing harassment is beginning to take its toll. As a result, he applied for and secured a restraining order against Mr. Zorn, ordering that he stay away from the motel. ..Source..

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