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Traveling midway explains why sex offender allowed to work at The Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair

Posted at 2:23 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 18:27:21-05

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lee County Sheriff's Office detectives said sex offender James Raymond Tennant, 45 operated a game booth at The Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair.

The sheriff’s office report says during that time Tennant worked under a fake name, James Martino, in order to slip by any background checks.

On Friday, the company that provides all of the rides and oversees the different booths at the fair, Reithoffer Shows, told us it wasn't their company that ran Tennant's background check.

“This guy doesn't actually work for Reithoffer Shows,” said company President Richard Reithoffer.

Instead, Reithoffer said sex offender, James Tennant was hired by an independent company that rented one of their booths.

He said that the company then provided him with James Tennant's false name.

“We get the names and we turn them over to the fair, the fair then gives them to the sheriff’s office,” said Reithoffer.

On Friday, Sergeant Christopher Fine with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said from there, they run all the names the fair gives them through the national sex offender database.

Sergeant Fine said a full background check was not requested because they are done by the individual vendors but there was nobody by the name of James Martino listed in the database.

Reithoffer said all of the employees that he hires, have to pass a background check before they can start working.

“But there is always a certain percentage, maybe less than 10% of drop-ins, you get, people that come to the fair, looking to rent a space for just that particular fair and that was this case here,” said Reithoffer.

Days after Tennant started working, a public tip came in and that’s how the sheriff’s office was able to identify Tennant for failing to register as a sex offender.

On Friday, Reithoffer said because of this case, he’s looking at hiring a more extensive background check company.

“I think we also have to ask from now on, for not only their id, but we want to ask for their physical social security card so that we can make sure that, that matches up with the id they are giving us,” said Reithoffer.

He added that the company responsible for Tennant has been removed from The Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair.