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Deadbeat Dads of Central Massachusetts

Saturday, March 31, 2012


There are more than 20,000 deadbeat parents in Massachusetts who have not paid a red cent for their child, forcing the other parent to take on a major legal battle in probate court. Massachusetts has about 20 parents who are wanted by police for not paying child support. Five of them are Worcester County cases.

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) spokesman, Bob Bliss said, "As of February 29, 2012, there are 23,246 non-custodial parents (NCPs) who have current support cases and have not made any type of payment during the past 12 months. They are associated with 26,127 current support cases, some non-custodial parents are names in multiple child support cases."

Bliss said some parents owe money to more than one person if they have had children with multiple people.

As a frame of reference, Bliss said DOR’s total current support caseload consists of 119,082 NCPs associated with 130,671 current support cases.

Due to privacy laws, GoLocalWorcester could only obtain the list of parents who have warrants out for their arrest or who are in criminal prosecution and not all parents who owe huge sums of money in child support cases.

Criminal warrants are taken out against parents when they go to great lengths to evade their responsibilities as custodial parents. The vast majority of cases, DOR knows where the parents are living. Bliss said an indictment is issued when the parent doesn’t show up for court.

Here is the list of deadbeat dads in Central Massachusetts:

Terry Azevedo served one year in jail for failing to pay child support. Bliss said Azevedo is out of jail now, but is on probation. If he fails to make a payment he will face a Fitchburg District Court judge.  Azevedo owes $96,000, a lot of which is in the form of interest and penalties.

A Milford District Court judge issued a warrant for David Fisher. He actually served jail time, then was released and fled, according to Bliss. Fisher owes $775,000 in child support cases.

Marion Earl Kaiser needs to pay $240,000 in unpaid child support. Leominister District Court is looking for Kaiser to appear before a judge and face the charges regarding the child support case.

William Petrone has been on the run since 1995 and his payments keep adding up. Petrone has to fork over $249,000 in interest, penalties and unpaid child support. Worcester District Court is looking for Petrone to face a judge and start paying up.

Dudley District Court issued a warrant for Stephen Smith. He was sentenced in 2007 and has been on the missing ever since. Now, Smith owes $150,000 in interest, penalties and unpaid child support.

How the state collects child support payments

The state has several ways to enforce a parent to pay up, but it is time consuming and exhausting for the parent who is trying to get the money from the deadbeat dad or mom.

Child custody cases are heard in probate court. Whatever decision is made, it is DOR’s job to collect the money and return it to the custodial parent. About $600 million comes into DOR and returned to children each year.

Bliss said half of what is owed can be the penalties and interest.

Bliss said the percentage of noncustodial parents paying child support is going up. Bliss said in the early 2000’s it was 61 percent. Now, 67 percent of parents pay some form of child support.

If you receive welfare, because your noncustodial parent isn’t paying, that welfare money gets returned to the Commonwealth once DOR collects the money.

Why catching these criminals is so tough

Finding these deadbeat dads with warrants is quite a challenge for police departments. In Worcester for example, there are approximately 8,335 open warrants. Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme said, “The Worcester Police Department has always prioritized the service of criminal warrants based upon a number of factors. The most important is the violent nature of the crime. We prioritize and actively serve warrants for all violent crime as defined in the Uniform Crime Report, domestic violence, drug offenses, and property crime.”

Chief Gemme said a lot of criminals are caught during traffic stops.

“Our officers while on patrol make warrant checks on individuals that they come into contact with when there is a reasonable belief of criminal activity and during traffic stops. A significant number of warrant arrests are made during these encounters…. Other tactics including warrant stings and warrant checks are conducted when appropriate.””

Gemme said the department has conducted a number of warrant apprehension stings and works closely with the Massachusetts State Police and the Marshals Service.

Options for parents who owe child support payments and can't pay up

About 70 percent of child support cases are handled by DOR and the rest by private attorneys, like Paul Foley of Mountain Dearborn & Whiting in Worcester. He handles cases on both sides.
Paul Foley takes on cases for parents who are owed money and the parent who is delinquent in payments. Foley said, “As anyone will tell you when dealing with the court system it is an inefficient way of dealing with problems that arise.”
Foley said there are several circumstances as to why parents fall behind in child support payments and few know their rights. Foley said, “From the point of view of the person who is obligated to pay, they need to know their rights. For instance, if you are obligated to pay $200 a week and you lose your job you need to file a complaint for modification with the courts. But a lot of people don’t do that and then the bills grow. Three months down the road they owe $2,500 bucks.”
On the other side, when he is trying to get money for his client, it can be as simple as deducting money from the parent’s paycheck. But Foley said it gets complicated when someone runs a cash business.
 Foley said this whole process is mentally draining, “It has literally driven people insane because it can be such an unfair circumstance.”


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