A surgeon described as Maryland's "most wanted" child-support scofflaw for owing $116,400 in back payments was arrested in his Baltimore County home Wednesday night as he prepared to move out of state, authorities said yesterday.
Dr. Kenneth L. Jones, 40, who eluded police for nearly two years and has been arrested twice before for non-payment of child support for his two teen-aged children, was painting his Retinue Court apartment in Woodlawn in anticipation of a move to North Carolina when he was arrested at 9:30 p.m., said Sgt. Jim Brennan of the Prince George's County sheriff's office. Only a bed and a dresser were in the apartment, the sergeant said.
"I knew you were coming sooner or later," Dr. Jones told two Prince George's County deputies, according to Sergeant Brennan.
Dr. Jones was at the top of a "Ten Most Wanted" list released earlier this week by the Maryland Department of Human Resources. Back payments of others on the list ranged from $8,332 to $55,019.
Dr. Jones was a partner in the Atlantis Health Center, a clinic in the 700 block of North Howard Street, and had interests in other health clinics, according to the authorities.
"He wasn't leaving much of a trail for us to follow," the sergeant said, noting that officers were working with eight different addresses and 10 phone numbers. "We couldn't catch him."
Dr. Jones was sentenced Thursday to 179 days in the county Detention Center -- the maximum for non-payment of child support -- by Prince George's Circuit Court Master Joel Worshtil. Sergeant Brennan said the doctor waived his right to an attorney.
The court master told Dr. Jones he could "purge" the sentence and get out of jail by paying the back amount, or continue paying the $2,000 each month in child support and $500 to make up for arrears following his release.
Dr. Jones was still being held last night, Detention Center officials said. He is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court Dec. 13 for a review hearing.
In July 1988, Prince George's County Circuit Court ordered the surgeon to pay $2,000 a month for his two teen-aged children -- a daughter, now 14 years old, and a son, now 19 -- along with $3,000 per month in alimony, said police and court officials.
The children live with a maternal grandmother in Maryland. Their mother lives in Kentucky, said Linda Botts, executive director of the Prince George's Child Support Agency.
Dr. Jones was arrested in August 1988 and April 1989 for non-payment of child support, said Sergeant Brennan, noting the surgeon made some back support payments but soon lapsed. Police received a warrant for his arrest from the Circuit Court in February 1990, he said.
During their investigation, police learned the surgeon drove a 1983 black Jaguar sedan. They also learned he was about to sell his practices and relocate to Kinston, N.C., the sergeant said.
Dr. Jones made a $2,000 payment in July, Sgt. Brennan said. Since then, he called the Sheriff's Department two or three times in an attempt to work out his payments but never came across with the money, the sergeant said. "He just never cooperated with us."
"I am shocked, I am just shocked," said Ernestine McLein, office manager at Atlantis Health Center, who saw the surgeon's name on the "Most Wanted" list published in The Sun on Thursday. "I don't know anything of his personal business."
Ms. McLein, who said the clinic employs 11 people including two doctors, said Dr. Jones did not treat patients there and she has not spoken with him since May.