The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department has posted its WANTED pictures of deadbeat parents -- hoping the public can help track them down. That is one of the major challenges when it comes to forcing people who owe child support to pay up -- you have to find them first.
“It’s a huge issue and there are over 17,000 cases in Montgomery County alone,” said Gary Koine, with the county's Domestic Relations Office. Parents fall behind on payments for a variety of reasons. “People lose their jobs, welfare and other resources change, there are numerous reasons these cases arise. People just don’t have the means to pay,” said Koine.
The top deadbeat parent right now on the WANTED list is John E. Preston, Jr. He owes more than $55,000, according to the sheriff's office. His last known address was in West Chester.
Sheriff Eileen Behr says it becomes difficult to find offenders because they often move from place to place, work under the table and completely avoid the IRS. One thing that has helped on the enforcement side is collaboration with other jurisdictions.
"Within the past 10 years, counties and states are communicating better with each other," Koine said.
Sheriff Behr and her team are working with neighboring counties to organize another "huge round-up" of perpetrators. They launched a similar operation two years ago with the help of Bucks, Chester and Delaware authorities and arrested 10 deadbeats.
Other law enforcement groups are also finding it helpful to get the public involved.
“The postings on the website are very helpful,” according to Captain John Loomis of the Erie County Sheriff’s office. "We receive multiple calls a week from people providing tips on the whereabouts of those with warrants out for their arrest.”
If you're falling behind on child support payments, Koine says don't let it get to the point where they're coming after you. Ask for help.
"Not all offenders to to jail," Koine said. "Some get put on probation and have to resume payments, but this time they have the help of a state program."