September 28, 2011
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard announced the arrest of 26 individuals with outstanding felony warrants for failure to pay child support. All together, the defendants targeted in the Southeast Michigan sweep owe $866,103.62 in support to 48 Michigan children. The sweep was a cooperative effort conducted by the Attorney General's Office and the Oakland County Sheriff's Department.
"I appreciate the opportunity to join with Attorney General Schuette to find individuals that have the ability to pay for the needs of their own children and refuse," said Bouchard. "Being a parent demands you take responsibility for your child - and it is the child we will look out for."
"Our job is to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children," said Schuette. "If you have the ability to pay child support and refuse to fulfill that responsibility, we will hold you accountable."
The joint effort resulted in a total of 26 arrests on September 20 - 21, 2011, including:
18 arrests of individuals wanted on Attorney General Felony Non-Support warrants in Southeast Michigan;
Three arrests of individuals wanted on Attorney General Felony Non-Support warrants made by other law enforcement agencies across the state that received notification of the outstanding warrants for individuals in their jurisdictions;
Two arrests of individuals wanted on Attorney General Felony Non-Support warrants made in Georgia and Tennessee by law enforcement agencies that received notification of the outstanding warrants for individuals in their jurisdictions; and
Three arrests of individuals wanted on civil Oakland County Friend of the Court warrants.
In addition, three individuals wanted on Attorney General Felony Non-Support warrants were contacted by investigators and agreed to surrender within days, resulting in a total of 29 defendants.
Among the fugitives targeted, those with the greatest arrearages in child support included: Vincent Edward Cameron, 40, of Bloomfield Hills, who owes $58,974.83; Mark Thomas Lester, 42, of Garden City, who owes $55,639.94; and Arthur Lenwood Wells, 42, of Fraser, who owes $54,802.82.
The majority of the defendants will appear in court his week. Five defendants are scheduled for pre-exam conferences on Thursday September 29, 2011 in Pontiac's 50th District Court. Nineteen of the 29 defendants were scheduled for pre-exam conferences on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 in Pontiac's 50th District Court. The remaining defendants will appear at later dates.
"I would like to thank Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard for providing support that helped make this effort a success," said Schuette.
Schuette's Child Support Division focuses on those parents who have an ability to pay, but refuse to do so. The Division receives case referrals from county prosecutors, Friend of the Court offices, custodial parents, and law enforcement agencies. Schuette said his office focuses on non-custodial parents resuming regular child support payments, not jail time. As a result, Michigan kids are paid what they are owed and subsequently receive consistent support into the future. Oftentimes the recognition of potential criminal prosecution is enough to encourage a non-custodial parent to act before setting foot in a courtroom. Since its inception, the Attorney General's Child Support Division has collected over $110 million for Michigan kids.
Custodial parents currently not receiving support may file an online request for review by Schuette's office at www.michigan.gov/ag.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.