SALISBURY – A local man with at least four stints in jail for not registering as a Level 3 sex offender is back behind bars after pleading guilty to a sixth offense Friday in Newburyport District Court.
Sixty-year-old Steven Berry, whose last known address was on Dock Lane, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail after pleading guilty to a single count of failing to register as a sex offender (subsequent offense). At the time of his arrest in Haverhill in March, Berry had only been on the streets for a few months following an 18-month jail sentence for the same charge.
At his arraignment on March 19, Berry was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. Since he remained locked up following his arrest, he was given credit for 150 days already served.
Berry was convicted in 2002 on a single charge of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older. Massachusetts law requires that all Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders register with local police whenever they move to a new community.
Level 3 sex offenders are considered the most likely to re-offend and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by making information known, according to the state.
According to a report, a Haverhill police detective contacted Salisbury police Sgt. Richard Dellaria on March 12 and alerted him that Berry was seen in Haverhill several times over the last few days. Police noticed Berry looking intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when they saw him.
"Detective (John) Moses informed me that based upon the frequency of noticing Berry in the city of Haverhill, he believed that Berry may be in violation and living in Haverhill, not in Salisbury," Dellaria wrote in his report.
With this information, Salisbury police Officer Jeffrey Greene drove to Dock Lane to check on Berry's whereabouts but found the home empty. Berry had been living in a garage there since his November release from jail and had registered with police.
Since then, police had multiple run-ins with Berry including responding to a fatal opioid overdose that occurred in Berry's small room off the garage. In February, Berry was a passenger in a car driven by a 16-year-old that struck a tree on Beach Road.
A check of Berry's criminal record showed four previous jail sentences for failing to register as a sex offender ranging from 90 days to 18 months, according to Dellaria's report.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.