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Press Release

North Carolina Man Residing in Deschutes National Forest Sentenced for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

EUGENE, Ore.—A North Carolina man illegally residing in the Deschutes National Forest was sentenced to federal prison today after months of failing to register as a sex offender.

Russell Joseph Szkolnyj, 51, of Wake County, North Carolina was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in 2006, Szkolnyj was convicted of indecent liberties with a six-year-old child and ordered to register as a sex offender. He was later convicted in 2009 and 2012 for failing to register in North Carolina. By May 2018, Szkolnyj had once again failed to register prompting the Wake County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office to seek and obtain a warrant for his arrest.

Sometime thereafter, Szkolnyj relocated to Oregon and, in July 2018, was advised by John Day, Oregon police officers of his need to register. Ten days later, Szkonyj, who still had failed to register, was contacted by Bend, Oregon police officers investigating the theft of a paddleboard in a public park. Szkolnyj gave the officers a false name and was ultimately convicted for the theft and sentenced to probation.

On November 2018, Szkolnyj was found to be residing in the Deschutes National Forest. U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers advised Szkonyj that he could not reside on public land and must immediately vacate the forest. The officers discovered that Szkonyj was still not registered as a sex offender and referred the matter to the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

The U.S. Marshals Service investigation determined that by January 2019, Szkolnyj was staying in Hood River, Oregon and likely heading toward Portland. The Marshals worked closely with several local law enforcement agencies along the Interstate 84 corridor and in the Portland Metropolitan area to locate and track Szkolnyj. Szkolnyj was arrested by Hillsboro, Oregon police officers on February 23, 2019. At the time of his arrest, Szkolnyj had been in at least five Oregon counties over an 8-month period while failing to register as a sex offender. 

On September 5, 2019, Szkolnyj pleaded guilty to one count of failing to register as a sex offender.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Marshals Service with assistance from the Hillsboro and Hood River Police Departments. It was prosecuted by Pamela Paaso, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Updated December 23, 2019