News and Press Releases

Navajo man sentenced to 18-Month prison term for failing to register as sex offender

February 4, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE -- United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, on February 3, 2011, United States District Judge James O. Browning sentenced Nelson Mitchell, Jr., 36, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, to 18-months imprisonment based on his conviction for failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). After serving his prison term, Mitchell will be on supervised release for a term of five years. Mitchell also is required to register as a sex offender.

SORNA, also known as the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act, requires that a convicted sex offender register in each jurisdiction where the offender resides, where the offender is employed, or where the offender is a student, and that the sex offender maintain current registrations. In an April 23, 2010 criminal complaint, the United States Marshals Service alleged that Mitchell was in violation of his SORNA registration requirements. The complaint alleged that Mitchell was required to register as a sex offender because he had been convicted of abusive sexual contact (crime on an Indian reservation) in September 2000 in the United States District Court and sentenced to a one-year federal prison term.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Mitchell first registered as a sex offender on November 6, 2001, as a twenty-year registrant with an annual registration requirement. On December 4, 2002, Mitchell received sex offender registration guidelines, which outline his various obligations, including the annual registration requirement. On September 4, 2008, when Mitchell reported to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office for his annual review, he was advised of his next annual registration date of September 4, 2009. The complaint alleges that, thereafter, Mitchell failed to update his registration in San Juan County, or any other county.

Mitchell was arrested on May 5, 2010 based on the charges in the complaint, and was indicted on July 13, 2010 for failing to register as a sex offender. On September 13, 2010, Mitchell entered a guilty plea to the indictment under a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. After his arrest, Mitchell was released to a half-way house subject to pretrial supervision pending disposition of the case. On September 23, 2010, Judge Browning revoked Mitchell's conditions of release and ordered him detained after finding that Mitchell had violated the conditions of his release. Mitchell has been in custody since that time.

Assistant United States Attorney Shana B. Pennington prosecuted this case, which was investigated by the United States Marshals Service.

(Download Criminal Complaint adobe icon)



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