Weak Background Checks at County Fair Fail Again

By Michael Klazema on 9/10/2013

For the second time in two years, weak background checks have resulted in potentially dangerous individuals being hired to work in the “kiddie” section of Snohomish County’s Evergreen State Fair.

This year’s incident involves Dale Roy Fager, an admitted child pornography trafficker who also had a fugitive warrant out against him for forgery in the state of Indiana. Fager was able to pass the background check conducted by Butler Amusements, the contractor operating the fair for the county, by using a fake ID and an alias. He then worked for Butler Amusements for several months and traveled to many different towns and cities along the West Coast before being arrested in Monroe, Wash. based on the outstanding warrant against him.

At the time of his arrest, Fager admitted to trafficking in child pornography. Investigators discovered over 500 images on his computer, plus emails to other pedophiles discussing his desire to “molest and marry a six year old.”

Needless to say, this incident was frightening and embarrassing to county officials, especially coming on the heels of a similar incident last year. That incident involved a woman named Caitlin Ferry who was awaiting trial for charges of child molestation at the same time she was working the kids’ rides area of the fair.

County spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said that after this year’s incident they will be taking steps to review their background check policy and use a stricter screening process.

Currently, Butler Amusements uses the National Criminal Investigative Database to check prospective fair workers for criminal convictions. This leaves potential vulnerabilities because it does not bring up arrests or pending charges, only convictions. While employers are expected to rely primarily on convictions rather than arrests in making hiring decisions, pending charges, for which guilt or innocence has not yet been determined, may need to be considered as well.

A more robust background check tool that searches multiple databases would allow employers to uncover all kinds of public criminal records and use them in a legally responsible way to make a wise hiring decision. US OneSEARCH from is a good example of such a tool. US OneSEARCH compares names and dates of birth against a collection of over 450 million public criminal records taken from all kinds of sources, including state and local court dockets across the country.

Another step the county could take is to require a Social Security Number based criminal background check such as US AliasSEARCH, which would close the loophole Faber exploited when he used a fake ID and alias to evade the background check.

While police do not believe there were any victims at the fair in Monroe, the investigation into other locations Faber visited with the fair is ongoing. Faber is currently in county jail awaiting charges.


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