More than 130 men arrested for refusing to pay child support

By Nathaniel Hernadez

CHICAGO – Richard Coleman’s girlfriend had just given birth to a baby boy when the Cook County sheriff’s office called his cell phone and asked him to meet them in the hospital’s parking lot.

He stepped outside and quickly found himself in handcuffs, one of the first arrests in a week-long sting targeting deadbeat dads. Altogether, 130 men who collectively owe more than $1.5 million in child support were arrested, Sheriff Tom Dart announced on Sunday.

“For hundreds of thousands of people Father’s Day is just a very, very painful day,” Dart said. “It actually serves as a perverse reminder of just how difficult their life is because there is no father, and not only is there no father there, but there is someone who has walked away from their responsibilities.”

Coleman, a 28-year-old Evanston resident, owes a former girlfriend nearly $10,000 in child support for another child, the sheriff’s office said Sunday. Another man owes his ex-wife more than $112,000 in back support.

There was no phone listing for a Richard Coleman in Evanston.

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Dart did not know how many of the men were still in custody Sunday, but said many of them had been released on bond, including Coleman, who posted $500 to get out of jail.

The men were all taken into custody without incident on civil contempt warrants for not complying with the terms of court-ordered child support. Dart estimates there are roughly 2,000 such warrants still pending in Cook County.

“This is an ongoing effort,” Dart said. “We’re going to continue going after these folks. This is not going to stop.”

The sheriff’s office is also looking for four deadbeat moms who owe child support.