HALL COUNTY, Ga. - A man who sold ice cream to kids from a sidewalk store seemed nice and friendly but was hiding a dark secret: He is a registered sex offender.
Endrick Joseph Torres, 39, was arrested on charges related to violating the Georgia sex offender law. Torres owned and operated the business Love Is All You Knead, an ice cream and doughnut shop, within downtown Gainesville.
Channel 2's Tom Regan spoke to the building owner, who is so angry about what happened that he shut down the store.
Claude Tatro said Torres pulled the wool over his eyes when he leased space to open his shop in December.
“The pitch was to have an attraction for the square that would bring in some customers,” he said.
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“He seemed so nice.” Ice cream shop owner arrested for forging name, violating sex offender status. Live report at 5pm. pic.twitter.com/U3z3RE58QG— Tom Regan (@tomreganWSB) June 19, 2019
Police said Torres used a fake name and forged identification when he signed the lease.
He spent the next seven months serving ice cream and treats to parents and kids. No one knew that the smiling ice cream man had a dark past that Tatro learned of only last week after getting a tip.
“We found out he was a registered sex offender in the state of Georgia and that he was convicted of such in the state of New York,” he said. "It was an invitation to his modui operandi. This is how he would operate, I'm sure."
Police said the sex offenses involved groping of a young girl.
Tatro alerted police and set up a meeting with Torres and his sister to talk about unpaid back rent and his lease.
“I acceded to her request and arranged to have him apprehended at that time,” Tatro said.
Police showed up at the store and arrested Torres.
Tatro said Torres may have interacted with children, but he doesn’t believe he abused any. He said he’s glad Torres is off the streets.
“This guy was manipulating the trust of people. He deceived the entire community," Tatro said.
Customers told Regan they're stunned by Torres' arrest.
"That's weird. We saw him opening the place," said resident John Montgomery.
Police said among other things, Torres broke the law that says a convicted sex offender can't be within 1,000 feet of a child learning center.
Torres remains in jail.
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