Sex offender's home watched at Halloween
Weston homeowner group posts guard, hands out fliers.
By Nicole T. Lesson and Joe Kollin
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted November 1 2006
WESTON · A Weston homeowners association took the unusual move of dispatching a security guard to monitor the home of a registered sex offender on Halloween night.
The association posted one of its uniformed guards outside the home of Scott Cagan, 1634 Sandpiper Circle, in the Savanna subdivision on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Earlier in the day, guards at the neighborhood's gates distributed fliers to warn parents.
The measures were taken to assure the safety of the community's children, said the group's president, Matthew Zifrony.
"We want to put residents on notice of what he looks like and the fact that he lives in Savanna," he said. "I have never heard of any association doing this, but we have the resources to do things others may not get to do. We control our own security and have resources to make fliers to hand out at the gates."
Cagan, 43, who is living with his parents, was convicted on two counts of lewd and lascivious indecent assault on a child under 16 in connection with a 1997 incident in Sunrise. He was sentenced in Broward Circuit Court in 2000 to 10 years in prison followed by 12 years of probation. He got credit for time served awaiting sentencing and was released from prison on Sept. 17. Cagan is listed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as a registered sexual offender.
Gary Poliakoff, whose Fort Lauderdale-based law firm represents more than 4,000 homeowner and condo associations, was surprised at the association's action.
"This is the first time I've heard of anything like this in a Halloween context," he said. "The common practice is to post a notice on bulletin boards and put it in their newsletters. In my 35 years, this is the first time I've heard of this.
"This is as extreme a situation as I've ever heard," he added.
But Daphne Bondu, trick-or-treating with her nieces and other family members, thought it was a good idea.
She and her charges walked right past Cagan's unlit home.
"It's an excellent idea," said the Tamarac woman. "There are people who may not know."
The guard, who left occasionally to patrol the rest of the community, was to act only as a watchdog and call the Broward Sheriff's Office should Cagan turn on the home's lights and open the doors to trick-or-treaters, Zifrony said.
Cagan didn't plan to be home early in the evening, said his mother.
"We won't be here, and when we come home we won't put the light on or open the door," she said earlier Tuesday. She and her husband have lived in the house for four years, she said.
Cagan's mother said her son was arrested for an incident that occurred while he was high on crack and that he's been bipolar since he was 13. The family has been looking for a place for him to live since his release.
"I thought he would stay for a couple of nights and then find a place ... But it seems there is no place on Earth that is not within 2,500 feet" of areas where city codes say he can't live, she said. "We had looked at more than 60 places and they all turn him down.
"My neighbors won't talk to me," she said. "And I don't blame them, they have children."
Details of Cagan's case and probation orders could not be learned Tuesday. But the Florida Department of Corrections said the "the vast majority of sex offenders are prohibited from having unsupervised contact with children."
The agency's probation officers advise sex offenders to keep their lights out on Halloween and not to pass out candy, said agency spokeswoman, Jo Ellyn Rackleff. She also noted that the agency's probation officers were increasing surveillance of sex offenders around the Halloween holiday to make sure offenders are in compliance with their court orders. There are hundreds of sex offenders in Broward County, according to the FDLE.
Because Cagan is living at his mother's house, Weston code enforcement officers on Monday cited him with violating the city code that prohibits sexual offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school bus stop. He is to answer the charge at a special master's hearing on Nov. 14.
Since 2005, cities in the county have been adopting ordinances to prevent sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, bus stops, parks, day-care centers and other places where children might be. They began taking the action after the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Homosassa, near Tampa.
Savanna is a community of 2,819 homes with children living in about 70 percent of them, Zifrony said.
"Everywhere you turn there are children," he said.
That's why the board would prefer Cagan leave.
"We want him out and don't want him as a neighbor where he will have access to children living in Savanna," he said. "You live within a gated community so that you can feel more secure."
Because sex offenders in Florida have no privacy rights -- the state puts their names and pictures on an FDLE Web site -- the association isn't likely to get in trouble for violating Cagan's privacy with its actions, Poliakoff said. But other issues could arise.
"At some point this might cross the line from informing to harassing," he said.
It would be a lot easier on everybody if we just killed these scumbags like we should.