Boss, 2 children defend child support 'deadbeat'

September 03, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Arrested for failing to pay eight years of child support, Anthony Farace was portrayed this week as a coldhearted man who financially and emotionally abandoned his five children. But Mr. Farace's employer and two of his children say he is not the defiant deadbeat painted by the state and his ex-wife, Joy Goldsmith.

"If it wasn't for all this mess, my father would be the dad I always wanted. I love him to death," said Danielle Farace, 18. "Any time I need money, he gives it to me. Just last week he gave me $200 for food and bills because I'd had to quit my job."

Dave Banta, who employed Mr. Farace, 42, at his chimney construction and cleaning business and rented a house to him, agrees.

"They are making him out to be like some kind of madman. That just isn't true," said Mr. Banta, a Woodlawn resident.

Mr. Farace was listed as Maryland's No. 1 deadbeat dad, state officials said, racking up $48,145 in unpaid child support. Authorities touted the arrest as evidence of their tenacity in tracking down a man on the lam.

Danielle and her brother, Robert Farace, 20, said a fuller picture of their father emerged when they moved into their own apartments, away from their mother, Ms. Goldsmith, who remarried in 1991 but uses her maiden name.

"We were brainwashed into thinking our father didn't want anything to do with us," said Danielle.

Ms. Goldsmith said the two children are caught up in a denial of their father's abandonment.

"They need a father's love so bad, so they are willing to believe he's actually a good father. Unfortunately, Tony doesn't know how to give that love," she said.

Danielle and Robert said that once they began living on their own, they recalled their father's attentions after their parents' 1986 divorce .

"Any time my mother went away, he'd come and stay with us," Robert said. He recalled that Mr. Farace cared for them when his mother went on a Bahamas vacation while the children were very young.

"Any time I needed money, my father would give it to me," said Robert. "The reason he didn't want to make the [child support] payments was he really didn't think my mother would spend it on the kids."

Ms. Goldsmith said she could have used the money.

After the couple split up, she went on public assistance for two years while she earned a college degree and reared the five children on her own. Later, Ms. Goldsmith was a sales clerk with AT&T, a job she said provided a decent wage and medical coverage for the family.

But there were tough adjustments, she said.

"Sometimes it came down to whether we were going to buy things for school or medicine for one of the kids," said Ms. Goldsmith, who has a muscle disease and no longer works.

Mr. Farace declined to be interviewed. He is being held in the Howard County Detention Center on $30,000 bail. A Sept. 7 arraignment is scheduled.

Here is how Mr. Farace landed in jail:

The couple divorced in 1986 after 23 years of marriage. Mr. Farace was ordered to make monthly payments of $600 to his ex-wife to support their five children.

Court records show that Mr. Farace made no child support payments until 1991, when he was found by authorities. From March to September 1991, he made payments totaling $4,615, court records show.

Mr. Farace "virtually disappeared" after making the payments in 1991, said Gerard Mueller, child support enforcement supervisor for Howard County. In March of this year, Mr. Farace surfaced again, Mr. Mueller said.

"He said he was tired of being on the run," Mr. Mueller said.

The authorities told Mr. Farace that if he made a good-faith payment of $10,000 and turned himself into the sheriff, they might negotiate on the payment schedule, Mr. Mueller said. Mr. Farace offered $2,500, said Mr. Mueller, then "cut off contact."

"They told him he was going to jail, so he backed off," Mr. Banta said.

Mr. Farace was arrested by Baltimore sheriff's deputies last week outside a Woodlawn home he rented from Mr. Banta.

Child support enforcement officials said they had been hunting for Mr. Farace nationwide. Most of the time, however, he was living close by with relatives or in rented homes in Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties, said Mr. Farace's son Robert.

"I'm not defending what he did. He should have just gone on and made the payments," Mr. Banta said. "But it's not like he completely abandoned his kids, either."

Mr. Farace frequently tried to help them financially where he could, Mr. Banta said.

Mr. Banta said he would drive Mr. Farace to Columbia once or twice a week to meet his children at their school bus stop so that he could give them lunch money. Mr. Banta also said he would pick up some of the children on weekends so that they could visit their father.

"I couldn't pick them up unless I had money to give to [Joy]," said Mr. Banta. He said Mr. Farace would give him $100 to $200 in cash, which Mr. Banta would give to one of the children to pass on to Ms. Goldsmith.

Howard County child support enforcement officials said they were unaware of any such arrangement.

Ms. Goldsmith said she was unaware that Mr. Farace was visiting his children at the bus stop. Mr. Banta picked up the children only a few times to visit their father, and those visits occurred only early in the couple's separation, she said.

The mother said some of the children were heartbroken about the lack of attention and interest from their father, but Danielle and Robert contend that their father didn't vanish from their lives.

It was when their mother moved the children to a home she had rented in Columbia, the children said, that they lost contact with their father.

Danielle and Robert said they now believe that was because their mother didn't want her ex-husband around the children.

"Once the payment order was signed, he vanished," Ms. Goldsmith said. "I never told Tony he couldn't see the kids, but I did make it known if he came around I'd contact the authorities and let them know where he was.

"I don't know that I'll ever see the money he owes."

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