Local News

Sheriff wants clearer rules to keep sex offenders away from State Fair

Posted October 26, 2015 6:03 p.m. EDT

— Twenty people were arrested at the North Carolina State Fair this year, including four registered sex offenders charged with being too close to children.

"I wasn't aware that you couldn't go to the State Fair," Bobby Snyder told Wake County District Court Judge Ned Mangum on Monday. "My bossman told my parole officer that we were going by there, and he didn't say nothing about it."

Snyder, 37, was arrested Saturday near Gate 10 of the fairgrounds, which is close to the Kiddieland ride area.

He was released from prison Sept. 9 after spending two years behind bars for failing to register as a sex offender. Mangum raised his bond on the fair-related charge from $50,000 to $250,000.

In addition to Snyder, Tyrone Szabo, 64, of 1505 Pocomoke Road in Franklinton, Matthew Allen Kenning, 38, of 2037 Shadow Creek Drive in Raleigh, and Charles Robert Stokes, 32, of 139 E. Franklinville St. in Staley, were arrested during the fair's 11-day run.

Authorities said Szabo impersonated a ride inspector in Kiddieland, while Kenning flew a drone over the area.

Anyone on North Carolina's Sex Offender Registry is prohibited from being within 300 feet of an area designated primarily for children, so Wake County deputies and State Fair police have focused enforcement on the Kiddieland area. But Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said state officials need to clarify the rules before next year's fair.

Harrison said he has already talked to Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and intends to speak with Attorney General Roy Cooper and possibly lawmakers about redefining "kid" areas at the fair.

"We may look at what can we do to make it clear so we can say, 'This is the way it's going to be. You can't come. If you do come, you're going to be charged,'" he said.

Two of the four men were wearing electronic monitoring ankle bracelets, Harrison said.

"If a person has a bracelet on that's monitored that's not supposed to be there, then when he comes within 3 to 5 miles, it alerts (the monitoring service), and they alert us," he said.