BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A Level 2 sex offender is being held on $5,000 cash bail, after police say he moved out of his Salem apartment sometime last year and never told any authorities where he had gone, as required by law.
Thomas Collins, 50, whose last known address was 116 Bridge St., pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender, a subsequent offense that means that if he is found guilty, he’s facing a five-year mandatory sentence. He was taken into custody in the courtroom at Salem District Court.
Collins had already served six months for the same offense in 2005, according to court papers.
He has been required to register as a sex offender as a result of a 1995 indecent assault and battery conviction, according to court records.
Collins has been wanted by Salem police since December, when they discovered from neighbors that he had moved without leaving a forwarding address, according to the complaint. The last time he registered with police was in December 2011, prosecutor Lynsey Legier told a judge.
Legier had sought a higher bail of $10,000, noting Collins’ history of flouting court orders by failing to show up, as well as his prior failure to register.
Collins’ history of skipping court includes default matters where he faces no jail time, said the prosecutor,
His probation officer said in court that Collins has paid virtually none of the more than $3,000 in restitution he owes in a 2003 case of credit card fraud. He asked that Collins be detained without bail pending a probation violation hearing, scheduled for next Thursday.
In March, Collins was stopped by Wenham police and arrested on a charge of driving after license suspension, as well as on the warrant for failing to register that had been lodged by Salem police. He was also wanted by probation officials in a decade-old credit card fraud case. But after posting $500 bail and promising to show up in court to answer to the charges, Collins failed to appear in court in any of the cases, according to court documents.
His attorney, Thomas Barrett, told a judge yesterday that Collins “panicked” as a result of “several mental health issues,” which the lawyer did not detail in court.
Barrett said his client would return to court on a much lower bail than requested by the prosecution, suggesting $1,000.
Judge Matthew Machera set the bail in between the two requests, at $5,000. However, Collins won’t be able to post bail until after the probation hearing.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.