A recently released violent sex offender was removed from the Bronx after being discovered residing near a local elementary school.
On Friday, August 21, Senator Jeff Klein announced that Mark Mercado, a registered Level 2 sex offender released from Gownanda Correctional Facility in western New York, had relocated to the Bronx and directly violated state law by moving a mere 449 feet from Biondi Elementary School, a special needs educational institution.
According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice, Mercado, 25, was convicted of rape in the 2nd degree.
DCJS further stated that on March 1, 2009, Mercado threatened a 14-year old girl, at gunpoint, into having sexual intercourse with him and then used force to overpower and beat her into submission.
Mercado was convicted on February 16, 2011 and sentenced to ten years probation and six months in jail.
The sex offender was released on parole this past July 10 and was discovered to be residing at 1541 Williamsbridge Road.
According to a New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision spokeswoman, the Williamsbridge residence was considered to be a Sexual Assault Reform Act-compliant residence up until Friday, August 21 when this new information was brought to their attention.
DOCSS took immediate action to remove the parolee that very same day without further investigation or delay.
Mercado has since been relocated to 1953 Richmond Terrace in Staten Island, according to DCJS.
More alarming than the speed at which Mercado found a new home next to Biondi Elementary School is a dangerous loophole in state law which does not place residency restrictions on stand-alone Universal Pre-K programs.
“The legal definition of ‘school’ does not currently prevent registered sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of pre-K programs and this poses a deadly threat to the safety and security of New York’s families,” said Senator Klein.
The senator added Mercado also resided within 950-feet of a stand-alone UPK located at the Westchester Tremont Day Care Center serving 100 children.
“Our children are our most prized possessions and their safety should be our prime concern,” said Al D’Angelo, Community Board 11 first vice chairman.
“Preventing dangerous sexual predators from knocking at the door of our schools is critical in building safe, strong communities and allowing pedophiles to flout the law is simply unacceptable,” he added.
In 2009, Klein introduced legislation that created a sex offender email notification system which later became Chapter 478 of New York State Penal Law and allows local residents to receive instant email alerts any time a sex offender moves into a selected zip code.
The senator introduced legislation in 2014 that would have prohibited Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from knowingly being within 1,000 feet of a facility where pre-k and kindergarten instruction is provided, however it never moved to the floor for a vote in the Assembly.
“We don’t want any sex offenders, especially violent ones, living anywhere near our kids,” said Joseph Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president.
“The people who placed Mercado there, whether it was an agency or the landlord, should be held accountable as there was not an adequate background check done on him. I hope there is not a repeat of this situation where he is living now and that someone there has done their homework,” he concluded.