Car Break-In Arrest in Santa Cruz Leads To Discovery of Fugitive Sex Offender

Joe Ray Greene. Photo: SCPD.
Joe Ray Greene. Photo: SCPD.
The Santa Cruz Police Department at 2:15 a.m. Monday arrested a man -- a convicted sex offender --  suspected of breaking into City Water Department trucks parked in the City Hall complex.

The suspect,  Joe Ray Greene, is accused of stealing the trucks' tools boxes, police said. 

Police said officers arrested Greene twice for suspicion of public intoxication -- in February and in early April, and only now learned that Greene is a convicted sex offender from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon. 

In 2004, Greene was convicted in Tribal Court of child abuse and child rape after attacking two young boys, police said.

Greene failed to register as a sex offender on the Warm Springs Tribal lands, police said, and a warrant was issued.

However, since Warms Springs is a sovereign tribal territory and it is exempt from federal law, which ordinarily would allow the states to have jurisdiction over Native American reservations, state and local officers cannot serve the Tribal warrant for him, according to police.  The warrant is not recognized outside the Tribal lands.

Greene was arrested in November 2013 by police in Portland, Ore., for his failure to register, however, the courts deemed they had to release him because of the lack of jurisdiction, police said.

"Somehow he landed in Santa Cruz," said the department.

At the time of his two previous drunk-and-disorderly arrests, the Santa Cruz PD said it did not know of his sex-offender status as Tribal sex-offender records do not go into the state's database. 

An Oregon newspaper article is here: 

The SCPD is now working with the District Attorney’s Office to petition the Department of Justice, Sex Offender Assessment Unit to ask for a review of the case and to determine if there is any way to gain jurisdiction over Greene and his failure to register as a sex offender in California.

Greene was booked at Santa Cruz County Jail for suspicion of auto burglary and resisting arrest, police said.
"Time for some lawmakers to go to work on fixing this dangerous loophole," the department added.   


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