Sunday, June 17, 2001

Sheriff catches no-pay parents

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The Kenton County sheriff had a gift for some Tristate parents this Father's Day, and it wasn't a paisley tie or golf balls.

        In Operation DADD — Deputies Against Deadbeat Dads — the department rounded up 18 parents, from as far away as Florida and Texas, who owe back child support.

        The group, which includes one woman, collectively owes more than $337,000 to their children.

[photo] Deputy Sheriffs Jim Tucker, left, and Terry Williams walk after looking for child support offenders.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “This Father's Day there will be a lot of kids spending time with their daddies,” Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn said. “But there are some fathers who neglect their families. These are the people we are giving a special Father's Day gift to.”

        The sheriff's fugitive team spent the last month tracking down the parents in a roundup which ends today. Of 17,000 child support cases the county handles, Kenton County Attorney Gary Edmondson estimates, there are 1,000 outstanding warrants for parents who owe back child support.

        This is just the latest effort by the sheriff's department to reduce the number of backlogged warrants. Last December, in a sting dubbed Operation Grinch, the deputies arrested almost 90 scofflaws tricked into showing up at the sheriff's office to collect tax refunds that didn't exist.

        Sheriff's deputies say they have cleared 2,500 outstanding warrants since Mr. Korzenborn took office in January 1999.

        “Men charged with flagrant non-support are hard to catch,” said Jim Tucker, one of two retired Covington police officers who make up the fugitive team. “They know you are looking for them.”

        Mr. Edmondson said parents charged with non-support sometimes do not report their earnings to the government or work under aliases.

        In what was described as one of the more difficult cases to enforce, sheriff's deputies arrested Jessie Garcia, 41, of Taylor Mill, on a warrant originally issued in Texas. Deputies say he has not paid child support since August 1999 and owes $43,000 to a child living in the Houston area.

        A change in federal laws four years ago now makes it easier for authorities to arrest parents who move to another state to avoid paying child support, Mr. Edmondson said.

        Another man apprehended by DADD had served jail time for failure to pay child support before. Barry Wayne Kincaid, 50, with no known address, was arrested in Covington for parole violations after he didn't pay child support, a condition for his early release from prison. He owes $26,000 in back child support.

        “This is the kind of guy who hasn't learned,” Mr. Edmondson said.

        County officials say this case points to a flaw in the system. Parents convicted of non-support are often put on probation so they can earn a living to pay the support. But some have no intentions of ever paying, and simply leave town.

        Eric Gallenstein was not able to avoid authorities by moving out of state. The Floridian, age and address not available, is fighting extradition to Northern Kentucky after being picked up earlier this month. He last paid support in December 1997 and owes $18,000.

        Flagrant non-support is a felony, Mr. Edmondson said, and most of the parents arrested face one to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

        “They have failed, refused and neglected to pay their child support,” Mr. Edmondson said. “We have exhausted all possibilities when we charge them with a felony.”


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