Just two days after 80 men were arrested for owing a collective $1.7 million in unpaid child support, deputies were back on the streets of Cook County, Tuesday, searching for some of the state’s worst offenders.
Wesley Ray was picked up at a home on the 2600 block of West Maypole Avenue on Tuesday morning. Sheriff’s officials said he owed $17,000 in unpaid child support.
“They’re still trying to make me pay for the kid,” he told NBCChicago from the back of a patrol car. “It’s not mine.”
Ray said he was aware that the courts required him to pay child support, but has been out of work and unable to pay for the child he alleges was not his own.
Deputies also arrested Donald Sanders, 33, outside of a home on the 6600 block of S. Damen Avenue. Sanders owed $21 hundred in unpaid alimony, and also failed to appear at a scheduled court hearing.
“I just got out of the joint in December,” he said to deputies as they were placing him in handcuffs. “I’m looking for a job now. I have an interview at 10:30. I can’t go because of this.”
The activity doesn't stem from the police.
“The judges are signing warrants for their arrest,” said Sgt. Terrence Meehan, who led Tuesday’s operation. “They don’t realize that this is a very serious."
The 2-year-old Child Support Enforcement Unit is tasked with finding these fugitives who disobey court orders to pay alimony, or fail to show up at court. Sgt. Meehan said unpaid child support has been particularly problematic in Chicago, Cook County, and many neighboring counties in Northeastern Illinois. The unit has taken over 1700 suspects into custody, and is the first taskforce of its kind in the county.
“This is your number one moral obligation in the world, is to take care of your children,” Meehan said. “So I definitely thing we are making a big difference out here.”
Operation Deadbeat Dad, which took place over the Father’s Day weekend, has been considered a huge success, but the work to find more violators continues. The Sheriff’s office plans to use their website to post the mug shots of nearly 1,100 outstanding parents who have warrants out for their arrest. The department’s most wanted suspect, David Fisher, 45 of Chicago, remains at large, and reportedly owed $243 thousand in unpaid child support.
In a news release, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart said: “I’m happy that our office is sending a message to all deadbeat parents – support your kids, or we’re coming after you.”