Child Support Delinquents Rounded Up

Times Staff Writer

Larry Juarez was hard at work digging a trench in a San Fernando park Thursday morning when two armed investigators in blue district attorney jackets casually strolled across the wet grass and asked him to step away from his work crew.

“We have a warrant for your arrest for failure to provide child support,” Investigator Dolores Taylor told the 31-year-old Pacoima man, the father of a 4-year-old girl. “And we’re going to have to take you in and get it squared away.”

“Aw, that?” Juarez exclaimed. “I’m payin’ child support . . . You’re not gonna handcuff me. . . ?”


Court records show that he is nearly $4,000 behind in support payments of $160 a month and that he failed to appear in court as ordered last month.

Led Away

As fellow workers and his boss watched, Taylor and fellow investigator Brad Cochrane snapped cuffs on Juarez and led him to their unmarked car. He was taken to the Foothill Division police station, where he was booked and held on $3,000 bail.

The scene was repeated dozens of times across Los Angeles County and neighboring counties Thursday, as 18 teams of investigators in unmarked cars began a three-day sweep, during which they hope to arrest about 200 of the so-called “deadbeat” dads--and a few moms--who have failed to comply with court-ordered child-support payments. Eighteen of the 1,400 arrest warrants they are trying to serve are for mothers.

By late Thursday night, more than 60 parents had been arrested, according to Lt. William Archer of the district attorney’s bureau of investigation.

It is the fifth such sweep in two years by Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner, whose previous efforts have resulted in a total of nearly 1,200 arrests.

Failure to pay child support is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail. First-time offenders are usually placed on probation.


Archer said the project’s goal is to spur parents to pay up, not merely to fill jails. He said parents not located this weekend will get another warning letter asking them to call in. They will be told that if they turn themselves into the court, chances are they will not be arrested.

The sweeps are scheduled to resume next month, with a goal of 500 arrests.

Investigators had begun their roundup in the predawn hours. Taylor and Cochrane--Team 15--began by knocking on the door of Timothy Peeks, an unemployed construction worker with a previous child-support arrest. Peeks, 29, who court records show is $7,700 behind in support payments for his 6-year-old daughter, was arrested at 6 a.m. at his Van Nuys home.

Next, Team 15 called the office of Playa del Rey sanitation supervisor George Hollman, whose secretary said he would not be in until after lunch.

Then they headed for San Fernando, where they picked up Juarez.

Their fourth suspect, Reseda roofer Robert Prather, 40, no longer lived or worked at the addresses they had.

“I arrested him on two previous sweeps,” Taylor said. “He’s pretty elusive.”

Then it was south toward Playa del Rey, where they finally caught up with the 39-year-old Hollman, a supervisor at Los Angeles’s Hyperion sewage treatment plant.

The investigators said they sometimes have to check out 15 different addresses before locating a parent.


“It’s a hit-or-miss thing,” Taylor sighed.