Tax dollars pay for offenders' hotel rooms

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Your tax dollars pay for many services. But, you probably didn't know it includes motel rooms for sex offenders. We discovered several of these motels along Jeff Davis Highway in Chesterfield. 12 On Your Side investigates how the Department of Corrections is spending your tax dollars.

We tracked the whereabouts of newly released sex offenders, starting with Chad Neblett. We've been following Chad since his release in July. We tried knocking on Chad's motel door but he had already moved out. But just as we were leaving, Hong Chourb walked up. Also a registered sex offender, Hong moved into Chad Neblett's old room at the 'Snow White' Motel soon after Chad moved out.

Diane Walker: "Who pays your rent?
Hong Chourb: "Can't talk about that."
Diane Walker: "Yes, why not? Is it the DOC, Department of Corrections?"
Hong Chourb: "I think so."
Diane Walker: "Did they tell you how long you would be allowed to stay here?"
Hong Chourb: "Yea, they tell me 45 days."
Diane Walker: "After that what happens?"
Hong Chourb: "After that I have to fine my own way."

Tuesday night we found Chad, lucid and happy to see us again.

"I've been good; I'm trying to avoid people getting me in trouble. I'm not trying to go back to the penitentiary," said Chad.

But, not in the group home where D.O.C. quickly moved him, after our first investigation. The schizophrenic and registered sex offender is at the 'White House' a motel next door to 'Snow White' where we first met him -- grooving to his own tune, nearly 5 months ago.

Diane Walker: "Who's paying for this room now?
Chad Neblett: "The P.O."
Diane Walker: "The Department of Corrections is still paying for this room?"
Chad Neblett: "Yea, yea."

How much, how long? Questions the state won't answer about local motels getting taxpayers' money to house released offenders. D.O.C. says it has no records that show total amounts spent on motel rooms.  There are individual bills, but it would cost 12 On Your Side $1,700 plus fees to pay for its staff searching the records.

So, we checked up on Hong to see if he was gone after 45 days...

Diane Walker: "We thought we'd check back. You're still here?
Hong Chourb: "Yea, I know."
Diane Walker: "Has it been 45 days?
Hong Chourb: "Yea."
Diane Walker: "They're still paying? What do they say?"
Hong Chourb: (Closes door)

62 registered sex offenders live in zip code 23237, according to state police records. 6 in rooms, paid for by D.O.C. at the 'Snow White'.

Owner Harry Patel said it's a way to survive in a mean economy, but, paying patrons are stunned by what they were told.

"Why would I move my kids next door to something like that? Because we don't know what his intentions are," said Willie Mattox. "They should let everybody that comes in here know that, especially if you got kids."

Two released offenders are at the White House, owned by Emba Inc. One at the Stratford motel owned by Suman Corporation.

"Should people be scared? Naw... In neither one of these hotels, I ain't seen nothing violent about no children or nothing like that." said Chad Neblett.

"They have no fear from me. I'm not going to hurt nobody," said Hong Chourb.

D.O.C. says it has a public safety responsibility to arrange temporary housing for indigent offenders and uses emergency funds for those 'infrequent' occasions. Meantime we're still pursuing answers to our money questions and will have that for you after we review the state's records.

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