Thursday, May 7, 2009

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Former Professional Baseball Player on Child Support Evader List Pleads Guilty

SAN ANTONIO – Troy Neel, a former professional baseball player who owes $763,059 in unpaid child support, pled guilty today to a federal criminal non-support charge in San Antonio. After entering his guilty plea with U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez of the Western District of Texas’ San Antonio Division, Neel faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Troy Neel failed to make more than $750,000 in court-ordered child support payments,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. “After retiring from professional sports, Neel had the financial resources to purchase an island resort in the South Pacific – but he failed to support his children. Today’s guilty plea marks an important chapter in the state’s lengthy effort to hold Troy Neel accountable for violating the law.”

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Attorney General Abbott added, “We are grateful to the Dallas Regional Office of the Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas and the U.S. Marshal’s Office for their tremendous assistance with this case.”

Federal agents arrested Neel last December at the Los Angeles International Airport as he exited a flight from Sydney, Australia. The arrest reflected an eight year long joint state-federal effort to bring Neel into custody.

Neel played football at Texas A&M University from 1984 to 1985 and played professional baseball for the Oakland Athletics from 1992 to 1994. Later, Neel also played for professional baseball clubs in Japan and Korea. In 1998, Neel was ordered to pay $5,000 a month in child support for the care of his son and daughter. The court order was based upon Neel’s earnings as a professional athlete. After retiring from professional sports, Neel purchased a resort island in the Republic of Vanuatu, where he has resided since 2000.

On March 2, 2005, a San Antonio-based federal grand jury indicted Neel. The non-support charge stems from Neel’s foreign travel in an effort to avoid paying child support since December 1998.