Of­fi­cials un­veil amnesty for child sup­port scofflaws

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN »

The more than 200 child sup­port dodgers for whom there are ac­tive ar­rest war­rants in Mont­gomery County can avoid be­ing pulled from their homes in hand­cuffs by tak­ing ad­van­tage of a week­long amnesty pro­gram.

Be­gin­ning Mon­day, Aug. 27, un­der a one-time amnesty pro­gram of­fered by county do­mes­tic re­la­tions and sher­iff’s of­fi­cials, child sup­port delin­quents can re­solve their out­stand­ing bench war­rants and es­tab­lish pay­ment ar­range­ments with­out the fear of be­ing ar­rested or forced to go be­fore a judge and pos­si­bly jailed.

Par­ents who owe back child sup­port can have their war­rants va­cated by turn­ing them­selves in at the Do­mes­tic Re­la­tions Of­fice, 425 Swede Street, Norristown, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily dur­ing the amnesty pe­riod be­tween Aug. 27 and Aug. 31.

Of­fi­cials said cur­rently there are 230 out­stand­ing ar­rest war­rants for child sup­port delin­quents in the county. Of­fi­cials said the to­tal amount of back child sup­port owed by the 230 scofflaws is $3 mil­lion.

“The hope is that we give them the op­por­tu­nity to make good on this obli­ga­tion, this court-or­dered obli­ga­tion, and hope­fully re­unify with their chil­dren and pro­vide that very im­por­tant fi­nan­cial as well as emo­tional sup­port,” Gary Kline, di­rec­tor of do­mes­tic re­la­tions, said at a news con­fer­ence on Aug. 23.

“It’s only of­fered to those in­di­vid­u­als who turn them­selves in in-per­son and work with us. When they do that, we’ll not have them ar­rested…but we would like to get them and help them get back on track, be­cause the im­por­tant thing is sus­tain­able fi­nan­cial sup­port for the chil­dren,” added Kline.

Let­ters went out on Aug. 21 to the 230 delin­quent par­ents in­struct­ing them to re­port to the do­mes­tic re­la­tions of­fice or face a range of con­se­quences.

“We strongly en­cour­age par­ents to take ad­van­tage of this pro­gram to help their kids and get on with their lives,” said Re­becca Colan­tuno, com­pli­ance man­ager for the do­mes­tic re­la­tions of­fice.

The amnesty pro­gram is tak­ing place dur­ing what is known as Child Sup­port Aware­ness Month.

“We are ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to chil­dren re­ceiv­ing jus­tice and that jus­tice shall take place in the form of child sup­port and vig­or­ous en­force­ment of the laws af­ter this amnesty pe­riod is over,” county Sher­iff Sean P. Kilkenny said.

“We en­cour­age all the peo­ple that are not keep­ing up their obli­ga­tions for child sup­port to use this op­por­tu­nity to part­ner with the county and come clean, turn your­self in, not fear any ar­rest and come for­ward with your obli­ga­tions. Even if you can’t pay ev­ery dime that you owe, come work with us so we can be­gin help­ing you and be­gin help­ing you help your chil­dren,” Kilkenny added.

Of­fi­cials warned that af­ter the week­long amnesty pe­riod ex­pires an “in­ten­sive ap­pre­hen­sion ef­fort” will take place.

The sher­iff’s war­rants divi­sion, sev­eral times a year, con­ducts overnight sweeps to take child sup­port scofflaws into cus­tody. The of­fend­ers are then taken be­fore a county judge for a hear­ing to an­swer to the al­le­ga­tions.

“We urge you to please turn your­selves in dur­ing the amnesty pe­riod or the week af­ter we will be go­ing af­ter and ap­pre­hend­ing all of those who fail to abide by the no­tice and fail to turn them­selves in,” warned Sgt. Mark Huz­zard of the sher­iff’s depart­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s of­fice, fail­ure to com­ply with a child sup­port or­der is pun­ish­able of up to six months in jail. Fail­ure to make timely child sup­port pay­ments may place in jeop­ardy any pro­fes­sional oc­cu­pa­tional li­censes a per­son holds, of­fi­cials added.

Anyone who knows the where­abouts of some­one wanted on a bench war­rant for fail­ing to pay child sup­port is en­cour­aged to call the of­fice’s tip-line at 610278-3340 or tip­sters can anony­mously send a tip to the of­fice through the Mont­gomery County Sher­iff’s Of­fice web­site at www.mont­copa.org/sher­iff

Tips can also be sub­mit­ted by post­ing a mes­sage on the depart­ment’s Face­book and Twit­ter ac­counts.

Res­i­dents may also sub­mit tips through the Mont­coPASher­iff mo­bile phone app which is avail­able in iTunes and GooglePlay stores.

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