SCRANTON — At 17, Zachary Pluko saw his future in the military or law enforcement.
At 29, the vision is a memory.
Pluko works at a Turkey Hill store to cover the monthly $600 rent he pays for a room on Moir Court. He and six other residents of 839-841 Moir Court mostly keep to themselves but they all share something in common: they’re registered sex offenders.
Their residence, about 940 feet from a school, is contrary to an unenforced Scranton ordinance that remains part of the city code more than a decade after a state Supreme Court decision invalidated the premise of a similar local law near Pittsburgh — forbidding sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, among other places children congregate. Asked about the zombie ordinance, city officials said they are looking into whether to rescind or amend the language.
“As written, it won’t stand,” first assistant city solicitor Andrew Cutillo said.
Pluko, convicted in 2011 of rape, and other registered sex offenders often live and work where they can and with those who will have them. Sometimes, that brings them close to schools. Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law, under which the identities and residences of sexual offenders are tracked and published, does not restrict where they can live.
“I made a mistake,” Pluko said. “I was a stupid teenager at the time it happened and now that I look back at it I say I was dumb, stupid. There’s so many things I could have done with my life. They’ve all been crushed because of something I did. Now I have to build myself from the ground up to become a productive member of society again.”
Pluko is one of about 200 sex offenders with an address registered in Scranton that is not a hospital, shelter or state-run halfway house, according to a review of the state’s Megan’s Law database. Of those, 152 live within 2,500 feet of a Scranton School District school.
“As we do not control where Megan’s Law registrants may reside, we practice wide-span information dissemination, aggressive vetting of school visitors and situational awareness concerning persons observed on or near school property,” according to a district statement.
The sex offender registry, however, is always in flux and state police caution that some of it may be out of date.