Wednesday, December 15, 1999
SAN ANTONIO - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed announced the filing of felony charges against eight noncustodial parents for failure to pay child support. The total amount of delinquent child support owed by the eight "dead beats" is $1.3 million. Today's indictments are the first criminal child support cases in Bexar County in over 20 years.
"Parents are responsible for their children. The parents indicted today have the ability to pay child support but cold-heartedly turned their backs on their own children. Their callousness hurts their children and creates an added expense for the taxpayers. That is unacceptable, and they will be punished to the full extent of the law," said Attorney General Cornyn.
The "dead beats" represent $1,328,694 in arrears owed to thirteen children. The eight people facing criminal charges in Bexar County are some of the worst "dead beats" in the county. Civil measures such as wage withholding, interception of income tax returns and license suspension have not compelled compliance with the child support court orders. A conviction on a felony charge means a maximum prison sentence of two years and repayment of the arrears.
Attorney General Cornyn differentiated between "dead beat" and "dead broke" parents. Non-custodial parents lacking the means to earn a living and pay child support are "dead broke." The Attorney General's office will refer cooperative "dead broke" parents to job training and employment referral programs. "Dead beat" parents have the financial resources to take responsibility for their children, but refuse to do so.
"Increasing the prosecution of dead beat parents achieves two important goals. It enables us to put the worst offenders behind bars and encourages voluntary compliance from those who might attempt to skirt the law," said Cornyn.
In May, the Attorney General's office worked with the Bexar County Sheriff in a "dead beat" roundup. The Sheriff sent out teams of deputies to arrest parents for failing to appear at child support hearings. The Bexar County roundup was the largest roundup in the state this year with 83 arrests and $79,209 in delinquent child support recovered.
The Attorney General's Child Support Division has the fourth largest caseload in the country with 1.2 million cases involving 2 million Texas children. Since April, 1997, Texas district attorneys have prosecuted 87 felony cases against "dead beat" parents in cases handled by the Attorney General's office.
The Office of the Attorney General vigorously pursues parents violating court orders to pay child support. Bexar County residents with information about delinquent noncustodial parents or other child support issues should contact the Office of the Attorney General by phone (1-210-841-8450), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by mail - Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division, P.O. Box 12017, Austin, TX 78711-2017.
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