A registered sex offender working at the Budget Host Inn East End hotel in Riverside has gotten one local man so riled up that he felt the need to inform the community — by papering red signs on telephone poles around the nearby traffic circle.
Last Wednesday, Kevin Zorn of Riverside admitted to posting dozens of red and black signs reading: “Public Alert: A level 3 sex offender lives and works at the budget motel,” though the signs were later torn down.
Mr. Zorn maintains that 40-year-old Ralph Blasi, a registered Level 3 sex offender who was convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old girl in 2009, should not be working at the hotel because of his close proximity to children.
“There’s kids at that pool,” he said. “People playing tennis. That’s not right.”
In an interview outside the Budget Host last week, Mr. Blasi explained that he was living in the hotel and working odd jobs there to pay his rent. But, he said, he is doing nothing wrong and is just trying to make a living and not rely on the county’s Department of Social Services to pay for his housing.
“I just want to keep a low profile and stay out of trouble,” Mr. Blasi said. He added that Mr. Zorn’s protest stemmed from a personal dispute between the men that started many years ago. Mr. Blasi once worked for Mr. Zorn.
Mr. Blasi said he started staying at the hotel after the county began distributing daily stipends to homeless sex offenders for food and lodging at motels and boarding houses. The county has since discontinued that program.
By working at the Budget Host, Mr. Blasi, who lists the hotel as his residence on the New York State sex offender registry, legally is doing nothing wrong. According to New York State Law, the only job a registered sex offender cannot hold, besides professions that have their own licensing restrictions, is operating an ice cream truck.
The owner of the hotel did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
Mr. Zorn also expressed fear that Mr. Blasi had access to all of the rooms, a claim that Mr. Blasi denies.
Still, Mr. Zorn is on a crusade to see Mr. Blasi fired, and has at least one other local business owner on his side.
Dave Dougherty, owner of Thrifty Beverage Center on Lake Avenue, across the street from the Budget Host, said he agreed with Mr. Zorn’s stance on the matter.
“If [Mr. Blasi] is working at a shoe store, that might be different,” he said. “But there’s families staying in there.”