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Marion County's crackdown on sex offenders lands man lengthy prison sentence

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Marion County Sheriff's Department's crackdown on sex offenders is working so well it is having a ripple effect on the judicial system.

Registered sex offenders are supposed to tell the Sheriff's Department where they're living, but they don't always do that.

A home on Northwest 14th Avenue in Ocala is where Jerrod Leonard Chandler claimed to live. But Marion County sheriff's detectives said he didn't live there. That false claim landed him in state prison for 10 years.

"The penalties are so large, why would they not comply with that? What else are they possibly doing?" said Detective Keith Miller with the Marion County Sheriff's Department.

Chandler is a registered sex offender. He was first jailed in 2002 for the sexual battery of a 12-year-old girl.

Registered offenders are required to check in with the Sheriff's Department on a regular basis. But authorities said Chandler was playing a game of cat and mouse -- his whereabouts unknown -- until deputies finally hauled him in front of a judge. That's where detectives piled on more charges.

"We knew he was due to be in court last Monday -- a week ago. So, when he showed up for jury selection for the trial he just got convicted on we arrested him there at the courthouse," said Miller.

And the judge threw the book at him -- the longest sentence in county history for an offender who failed to register. It was eight years longer than the time he did for the sexual battery.

Detectives hope this will send a message to all the registered offenders living in Marion County.

"They go to sex offender treatment class together. A lot of them live in the same locations together. And they talk. And the message will get out. I'm certain of it," said Miller.

There is still no word on which Florida state prison Chandler will be sent to, but sheriff's detectives say at least they'll know where he is.