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Sex Offender Case Highlights Need For Background Checks

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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CHAMPLIN, Minn. (WCCO) - A man who worked for a company known for setting up bouncy houses at children’s birthday parties is behind bars for failing to register as a sex offender.

Greg Sissala was convicted of a sex crime in 1995 in Chisago County. His employer, Kurt Wresh, the owner of USA Inflatables, said Sissala never told him about his past issues with the law.

USA Inflatables provides bouncy houses, slides and other inflatables for birthdays and graduations. Wresh said he was stunned to hear about the arrest and now he spreading the word to others about the importance of checking backgrounds of those who work for you.

“It came as a complete shock to us,” said Wresh, who has run  USA Inflatables for 11 years.

The company has 20 employees, and Wresh admits the majority of the time they don’t do extensive background checks.

“We do a driver’s license background check, we do a DOT background check, a drug test when they get hired, but unfortunately we had no idea what happened with this employee,” said Wresh.

Wresh said he was caught off guard when Sissala was arrested by Osseo police and transferred to the Hennepin County Jail for failure to report as a sex offender.

“As soon as we found out he was obviously terminated. We haven’t talked to him, he is in jail still,” said Wresh.

Wresh says when Sissala was hired, he was asked about his background, but said nothing about his criminal history.

He said Sissala worked summer months and his arrest had nothing to do with his employment at USA Inflatables.

“His work consists of being around the warehouse, not in any public function at all, so he was never around kids,” said Wresh.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Department said Sissala has an extensive criminal history, and this is not the first time he’s violated conditions of his release by failing to register.

Investigators will present a case to the county attorney for possible charges and more jail time for Sissala.

Wresh said this ordeal has led to a new policy at USA Inflatables.

“Starting today, we background checked all 20 of our employees,” he said.

Wresh said all small business owners should know there are free websites, like mncourt.gov and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s public criminal history page that can help them check backgrounds of potential employees — something Wresh just recently learned.

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