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9:41 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Chino Valley haunted house volunteer was sex offender; faces new charges after texting girl

Josiah J. Albus, 19, of Chino Valley

Josiah J. Albus, 19, of Chino Valley

CHINO VALLEY - Police found after investigating the activities of a volunteer that he is a registered sex offender, and the town had failed to check into his background before allowing him to volunteer during Chino Valley's Haunted Swamp over the Halloween weekend.

According to a press release from the Chino Valley Police Department, officers arrested Josiah J. Albus, 19, of Chino Valley, on Nov. 16 on forgery-related charges after the investigation.

Earlier in November, Albus reported to police that the brother of a 14-year-old girl had threatened him.

Albus, a registered Level III sex offender, told the police he had been working for the Town of Chino Valley Parks and Recreation Department at the Haunted Swamp when he befriended the girl and exchanged phone numbers with her, the press release states. He then began texting her back and forth on his cell phone.

When the brother found out about the messages, he allegedly threatened Albus if he did not stop.

Police investigated the threat and found no basis for charging the brother.

However, officers recognized Albus from his prior arrest and immediately began checking into Albus' story regarding his volunteer work with the parks department because of his status as a registered sex offender.

A review of the application by police showed that Albus falsely completed the application by denying any charge/conviction of a felony. Officers booked Albus into the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde on forgery-related charges.

The investigation showed that Albus had completed a volunteer enrollment form and turned this form into town staff on Oct. 29. He immediately began his volunteer work. He worked Oct. 29-31.

Level III is a "high risk" level of a sex offense. The town has procedures in place for using volunteers with respect to background checks and authorizations.

"Regrettably, these protocols were not followed in this situation," CVPD Commander Mark Garcia stated in the press release. "Remedial training and discipline has been issued to ensure a similar situation will not be repeated.

"The town endeavors to assure our citizens that events are handled in a responsible fashion using documented protocols and procedures," he said.

A CVPD spokesperson said police did not want to issue a press release about the arrest last month until they were absolutely sure of the county attorney's intentions with the charges.