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The Los Alamos Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation that led to Wednesday’s noon capture of a convicted sex offender who’s been living in the 2000 block of 34th Street for several months.
The Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and local police participated in the arrest of Bruce Crousser, 44, a convicted sex offender from Missouri.
Crousser was apprehended at a Trinity Drive diner about to have lunch with a woman. He failed to register as a sex offender as required by law, according to officials.
“Court records show Mr. Crousser was convicted of several sex crimes, some of which involved minor children,” Lucero said. “He’s been working for a contractor doing business in the local area.”
Crousser was court-martialed in the U.S. Army in 2001 and served three years in the bureau of prisons, which is part of the federal military prison system. Crousser first registered as a sex offender in 2003 in the state of Oregon and last registered there in 2009.
Since then, he has been on the move in an apparent attempt the avoid law enforcement, Lucero said, adding that a detective in Oregon told him Crousser might be in the local area.
Lucero launched an investigation, conducting surveillance, running license plate checks and confirming utility bill registration on the 34th Street home.
“I worked and managed criminal investigations for 17 years and the worst crimes I saw were against innocent children,” he said. “I’m passionate about protecting the children of this community from predators and today (Wednesday) was a big success.”
Lucero explained during an interview in his office late Wednesday that he first learned of Crousser from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. After speaking with the Oregon detective, Lucero conducted surveillance on the 34th Street residence and saw a man exiting the home who fit the description of Crousser.
“I also saw him get into a vehicle so I ran a plate check through police dispatch and it came back registered to Mr. Crousser so I knew he was here,” Lucero said. “Once his presence in our county was confirmed, I contacted the United States Army to confirm his sex crime convictions. I also did a public utilities check, which linked that address to the 34th Street residence as well and that locked up the case.”
Lucero said he drafted an arrest warrant and affidavit for Crousser’s arrest.
“I was told that state law required Mr. Crousser be given notice that he is in noncompliance and must come in to the office and register as a sex offender before an arrest warrant can be approved by the District Attorney’ Office,” he said. “This was very frustrating for me because I had the arrest order completed more than a month ago – it made absolutely no sense to me because I knew if I advised Mr. Crousser of his noncompliance he would disappear – since he had been on the lam since 2009.”
Rather than notify Crousser, Lucero contacted the U.S. Marshals Service in Albuquerque. He spoke with U.S. Deputy Marshal Lasha Smith who is a sex offender investigator and advised her of his investigation. He sent her the case he had compiled, which she reviewed and presented to the U. S. Attorney's Office. The U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to prosecute the case, Lucero said.
“Lasha drafted up a federal arrest order and she and I communicated frequently regarding the investigation and we coordinated (today’s arrest),” he said. “This was a team effort by the Los Alamos Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and the police. If one of the three was not in the loop, (today’s) arrest would not have happened. I don’t have the resources to make these kinds of arrests so I want to thank Chief (Wayne) Torpy and his department for helping me complete this arrest.”
The arrest team arrived at Crousser’s residence about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. They followed a woman driving away from the residence to the 50s Diner on Trinity Drive, where she joined Crousser at a table inside. The team entered the establishment and made the arrest.
Two U.S. Marshals transported Crousser to a federal jail in Albuquerque where he is awaiting an initial court hearing.
Lucero is calling on parents of minor children who may have had contact with Crousser to come forward.
“I’d like them to contact the police department at 662-8222 to report any possible wrongdoing,” he said.