Ken Paxton

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Attorney General Abbott Applauds Conviction Of Child Support Scofflaw

AUSTIN Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today applauded the conviction of Craig Richard Woods on five counts of criminal nonsupport for failing to support his two minor children, who live with their mother in Longview. Woods, 45, was found guilty by a jury in the 307th Judicial District Court of Gregg County. The case was brought by Gregg County District Attorney Bill Jennings.
I appreciate the efforts of District Attorney Bill Jennings to hold this father accountable for his children’s care, said Attorney General Abbott. Parents who display such callous disregard for their children’s well being must be prosecuted.

A jury of eight men and four women took 20 minutes to reach Wednesday’s verdict. Judge Robin Sage, who presided over the jury trial, has ordered a pre-sentencing investigation in preparation for a sentencing hearing that is scheduled to take place later this month.

In August 2004, Jennings presented Woods’ case to the Gregg County Grand Jury, which indicted him for failure to support his minor children during a five-month period between December 2003 and April 2004. At yesterday’s jury trial, former employers testified that work was available to Woods during that time.

The real hero in this case is the mother who has supported her two children and took the witness stand to hold her ex-husband accountable, said Jennings.

In 1996, Woods was ordered to pay $685 a month in child support. Due to missed payments and interest that accrues on the past due balance, he now owes more than $41,000. Woods has been incarcerated in the Gregg County Jail since August, when he was arrested on the felony charges.

The Child Support Division of the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for establishing and enforcing civil child support orders. Attorney General Abbott also promotes cooperation between his office and local prosecutors to impose criminal penalties against parents who have the ability to care for their children, yet steadfastly refuse to make court-ordered child support payments. Jennings appointed A.D. Clark, a lawyer with the Attorney General’s regional office in Tyler, to assist him on Woods’ case.

Statewide, child support collected by the Attorney General’s Office exceeded $1.6 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2004. The Attorney General’s Longview child support office collected more than $24 million of that amount.