Delinquent father gets treatment instead of jail Homeless man owes child support

December 04, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Calvin Thornton got another break yesterday.

According to his attorney, the 40-year-old homeless man -- who is more than $18,300 behind in child support payments to the Department of Social Services -- "got lucky" when Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. accepted a plea bargain in Mr. Thornton's criminal non-support case.

The judge convicted Mr. Thornton of the misdemeanor charge and agreed to sentence him in June. But, in accordance with the plea bargain, the judge ordered an extensive alcohol treatment program, and, should Mr. Thornton be successful with his

treatment, the judge will impose a suspended three-year sentence.

Mr. Thornton, an alcoholic who has been in and out of detention centers in Carroll County, Baltimore County and Baltimore during the last eight months, will enter Shoemaker House, the county's alcohol detoxification center for 30 days, said Assistant Public Defender Judson K. Larrimore.

After that, Mr. Thornton will participate in long-term treatment at a halfway house for at least a year, the attorney said.

Yesterday's agreement -- in which Mr. Thornton allowed prosecutors to present enough evidence so the judge could find him guilty -- was the second time Judge Beck has sent him to treatment rather than to jail.

In June, the judge postponed Mr. Thornton's case indefinitely to give him time to participate in the Westminster Rescue Mission's alcohol treatment program. At that point, Mr. Thornton had been held at the Carroll County Detention Center on $7,000 bail since he his March arrest in West Baltimore.

Before the judge could release him to participate in the mission's program, Mr. Thornton was sent to the Baltimore County Detention Center, where he served about two weeks for a traffic conviction.

On July 2, Mr. Thornton showed up at the Rescue Mission. On July 4, he fled.

A month later, he was arrested and charged with trespassing in Baltimore after city police found him sleeping on a park bench. He was held at the Baltimore Detention Center until Sept. 21, when he was transferred to the Carroll County Detention Center.

Mr. Thornton will stay in the detention center until he enters Shoemaker House a few days before Christmas, Mr. Larrimore said.

Before Carroll Sheriff's deputies traced Mr. Thornton's whereabouts in March, locating him was a frustration for authorities.

He had failed to make any child support payments since 1980 to the Westminster woman who is his former wife and the mother of his 12-year-old child, court records show. He now owes the money to the state Department of Social Services because it has been paying the child support, court records show.

The court records also show that Social Services officials couldn't locate Mr. Thornton to bring him to court on his delinquent child support. But they did send him monthly welfare checks since 1980.

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