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Judge: Nassau sex-offender law 'invalid'

A District Court judge in Hempstead has ruled that Nassau County's law barring convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school is invalid because it is inconsistent with state law.

In a case brought by Michael Diack, a Level 1 registered sex offender who had been living about 500 feet from the Lawrence-Woodmere Hebrew Academy in Woodmere, Judge Valerie Alexander of the First District Court in Hempstead, dismissed the charges that he had violated the county law.

In making her decision last week, Alexander said the state law takes precedence over Nassau. State law requires that only registered sex offenders on parole or probation be required to live beyond 1,000 feet of a school. Nassau's law makes no distinction between sex offenders on parole or probation, and those who are not.

The county had argued that Diack refused to comply with their law even after being put on notice of his violation.

His Mineola lawyer, Salvatore Marinello, had argued that the county law was invalid because Diack was not on parole or probation when he lived near the Woodmere school.

"Why would you arrest people on an invalid law? It's just hard to believe that their advisory lawyer did not know a state law was in place and that it would pre-empt their law."

"The state law of 2005 bans all supervised . . . sex offenders whose victims were minors from knowingly entering or living within 1,000 feet of a public, private or vocational school below college." Marinello said. "That's the law."

District Attorney Kathleen Rice said through her spokeswoman Carole Trottere that she is "disappointed but . . . this decision is one more reason that we need a tougher, smarter and more comprehensive solution to protecting children from sex offenders . . . a two-pronged approach of tougher laws and smarter, more-effective residency requirements."

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he was outraged by the decision.

"There is clearly something wrong with society when sex offenders can live within 1,000 feet of school where our children learn and play," Mangano said. "I have directed the county attorney to do everything he can to assist District Attorney Rice in overturning the decision in this case. If need be, we will introduce remedial legislation to protect our children."

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