Dennis Rodman faces jail time in O.C. court case [Updated]
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman faces up to 20 days in jail Tuesday for failure to pay spousal and child support, according to an attorney for his ex-wife.
The Hall of Fame player, whose years as a West Newport resident drew the ire of neighbors and the attention of police, is scheduled to appear at a contempt of court hearing Tuesday in Orange.
As of March 1, Rodman, 50, owed $808,935 in back child support for the 9- and 10-year-old children that he had with his third wife, Michelle Rodman, said her attorney, Jack Kayajanian, in court documents.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version incorrectly said Dennis Rodman is 51. He is 50.
Rodman also owed $51,441 through March 1 in back spousal support, Kayajanian alleged in court documents.
Michelle Rodman, identified in court papers as a Costa Mesa resident, is also requesting attorneys’ fees.
Dennis Rodman’s attorney, Linnea Willis, said in court documents that the former Laker is barely capable of paying for his living expenses, let alone the $5,000 he has for one child from another relationship, and the $4,500 monthly payment for spousal and child support to Michelle Rodman.
The attorneys who have represented him to date have worked pro bono, Willis said.
“Respondent Dennis Rodman is broke and cannot afford any additional fees,” according to court documents filed on his behalf.
He is “extremely sick” and his marketability is diminishing with age and illness, according to court documents.
This year, Rodman paid more in child support than he earned, according to court records.
“Michelle Rodman has already been paid $13,500 this year, even though Dennis Rodman has only made $8,000 this year,” Willis said in court documents. “The only way he is even able to keep up with support obligations is to borrow money from his finance manager Peggy Williams and his agent Darren Prince.”
Some of Rodman’s financial hardships stem from having cashed out his NBA retirement for pennies on the dollar so he could pay back taxes owed to the state of California for 2002-03, according to documents filed with the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange.
Rodman still owes more than $350,000 in back taxes, according to court documents, but Willis said Rodman’s taxes were done improperly by a former accountant. That figure is disputed by his current counsel, who says he owes about $100,000.
"… In all honesty, Dennis, although a very sweet person, is an alcoholic,” Williams said. “His sickness impacts his ability to get work. This case, especially his wife filling for divorce, has put him on a binge that I have never seen before. He is extremely hurt and extremely sick. He is often unable to obtain work because of this sickness. And his sickness is getting increasingly worse.
“Dennis cannot afford his own monthly expenses. If the court awards attorney fees, it is setting Dennis up to be in contempt because you cannot get blood from a turnip.”
Rodman, who at the time his wife filed for divorce earned $570,000, doesn’t have a checking account or any assets, his attorney said in court documents.
At the time his wife filed for divorce, he listed his monthly expenses at more than $30,000, according to an article from the Los Angeles Times in 2004. Michelle Rodman listed her monthly expenses at $17,000.
Rodman was found guilty of four contempt-of-court charges last year, according to both lawyers.
Typically the court will order 120 hours of community service per charge for a first-time offense, according to Kayajanian, but he said it’s unclear whether Rodman will serve jail time or do community service because he’s now a Florida resident and is likely unable to perform community service in California.
Kayajanian said claims of financial hardship are untrue, adding that Rodman flies all over the world, hosting nightclub gigs in Europe. He called the roughly $800,000 Rodman owes his client “locked in stone.”
Willis said an order to pay $50,000 was determined without her client present — a rate “which nobody could pay” — and based on estimates of his income rather than what he actually earned.
“He does OK for a retired athlete, but whatever he’s making now is nothing compared with what he was making as a professional athlete,” Willis said.
“Either way, this is his first time. He has always paid child support,” Willis said, calling publicity of Rodman’s case a “smear campaign.”
“He has always supported his family to the best of his abilities with whatever he has.”
Rodman, who played on championship Chicago Bulls teams with Michael Jordan before coming to the Lakers, often led the NBA in rebounds. He has a long history with Newport Beach, whose police were called to his Seashore Drive home in West Newport 80 times during the eight years he lived there.