WESTMINSTER — The man who owes a Carroll woman almost $13,000 in back child support -- and has been jailed since sheriff's deputies found him in Florida -- is expected to enter a plea agreement today in exchange for a two-year state prison sentence.
George C. Smith III will formally plead not guilty to a charge of non-support of a minor child, but he will agree to allow the court to hear only the state's version of the facts supporting the misdemeanor charge, according to court records.
Judges rarely find in favor of defendants entering such a plea, making it tantamount to a guilty plea. Smith's lawyer, Public DefenderJudson K. Larrimore, wrote in a letter to Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. that he expects the "Court to impose no more than two years in the Department of Corrections."
The letter was a confirmation of anegotiating session last Monday between Burns, Larrimore and Assistant State's Attorney James F. Brewer.
Smith, 33, was arrested by Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies at his Tampa, Fla., apartment inlate January after a two-year attempt to find him. Before his extradition Feb. 9, Smith remained Carroll's sole representative on the state's "most-wanted fathers" list, a compilation of men accused of being far behind in their child support payments.
Smith had been placed on the seventh such list in the most-wanted program's two-year history in October 1990, almost three months after he was charged by the State's Attorney with neglecting to provide for his children.
In addition to the two-year sentence for the non-support charge -- which carries a maximum sentence of three years -- Smith's deal includes the closing of a drug case against him. The $12,700 in back child support will be reduced to a civil judgment, court records show. What thatmeans is Smith's ex-wife will have to pursue the collection of the money on her own, and that no more delinquent child-support payments will accrue.
Also, the state has agreed to "withdraw all efforts toprosecute the defendant," and to stop all attempts to punish him further, Larrimore's letter to Burns said.
Before an anonymous tip tothe Carroll County Sheriff's Department alerted authorities here to Smith's whereabouts, he had been elusive for years.
Sheriff's officials from Carroll and Baltimore -- where Smith lived until moving toFlorida a year ago -- couldn't find him to serve summonses or arrestwarrants.
Smith said he moved to Tampa to be closer to his parents, and that while there, he was earning no more than $5 an hour in part-time custodial jobs.
Smith was said to have stopped making his $85-a-week payments to his former wife on Dec. 26, 1989. Before that,the amount was taken out of his $6.50-an-hour paycheck at a Baltimore hotel.
Smith is one of three men with Carroll ties arrested recently who are said to owe large amounts of back child support. Calvin Thornton, who owes his Carroll ex-wife more than $17,000, and MichaelGlover, who owes his ex-wife nearly $12,000, are in the Detention Center awaiting trial.