In a series of pre-dawn raids yesterday, the Baltimore County sheriff's office rounded up 17 fathers whose delinquent child support payments totaled more than $80,000.
The raids, which began at 3 a.m. with two teams of six deputies each, were part of Sheriff Norman M. Pepersack Jr.'s latest attempt to cut into his list of 800 "deadbeat dads." It was his second high-profile attempt to catch men who are behind on paying court-mandated child support. In all, 35 raids were made throughout the county.
Yesterday's effort was much more successful than an elaborate sting operation Sheriff Pepersack conducted last November, when a phony mailing "awarding" free tickets to this year's opening day Orioles game snared just eight men.
This time, before the deputies set out on the raids, Sheriff Pepersack said, his staff carefully checked for the most verifiable addresses they could find on those fathers who owe the most money. He said he had search warrants for each address, though the cases are civil, and not criminal.
Of those caught yesterday, according to the sheriff's office, David Stripling, John Szymborski and John Lang 3rd owed the most.
The sheriff's office said that Mr. Stripling, 42, of the 7400 block of Dunmanway, Dundalk, owed $17,350; Mr. Szymborski, 43, of the 7300 block of Edsworth Road, Eastpoint, $16,000; and Mr. Lang, 32, of the 900 block of St. Charles Ave., Arbutus, $15,000.
The next highest amount owed was by Gregory Prather, 35, of the first block of Stayman Court in Catonsville, the sheriff's office said. Mr. Prather was $6,100 behind. Four other fathers owed between $4,000 and $5,500. The rest owed less than $1,600 each. One father paid his $1,400 debt in full and was released hours after his arrest.
During the raids, one other man was arrested on a warrant in a paternity case. He admitted paternity, signed an agreement to pay $40 a week in child support and was released, a sheriff's spokesman said.
Each man taken into custody was held without bail until a bail review hearing, or until he paid the debt in full. Typically, those unable to pay or who are unemployed are sentenced to the county jail work-release program, where their wages and their whereabouts can be closely monitored, Sheriff Pepersack said.