Blog: Was $338 million Powerball winner really a 'deadbeat dad'?

9:30 PM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
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It's unfair but some so-called "deadbeat Dads" don't deserve the title and I heard from one of them after writing a previous blog "'Deadbeat Dads' give the name Dad a bad name."

Touched by his letter, I had been doing some research when I saw that the latest Powerball winner Pedro Quezada owed $29,000 in back child support.

He took the cash option and pocketed $152 million, more than enough to pay it back, which he promptly did in court on Monday. His payments went back to 2009 and he had made one in 2011 but not enough.

Know that Powerball officials said they would have paid out the child support payments before handing over the $152 million anyway.

When he was in court, Quezada's attorney said Quezada will "do what's right for his children." It's not known which three of Quezada's five children, who range in age from 5 to 23 years old, are covered under the payments.

Quezada lived in the United States for 26 years since his family moved in the 1980s from the Dominican city of Jarabacoa. Neighbors said the Quezada family suffered bad luck in recent years. Thieves broke into their apartment in 2011 and a fire almost destroyed their bodega in 2009.

He was well behind in his payments but winning millions in the lottery isn't something that happens regularly so it's left to nearly everyone else to come up the money by working.

Now, when I wrote the previous blog, I used Cuyahoga County court documents to look at lists of fathers who owed child support. When I tried to find out the individual circumstances as to why the fathers weren't making payments, I was told that the information was "unavailable."

The father that wrote me said he didn't want to be called a "deadbeat Dad" because he wanted to make the payments because he wanted to take the proper care of his children. He said when he went through his divorce, he asked to pay even  more than he was required to pay.

He wanted to help his soon-to-be-ex-wife stay in their house so the children could remain there. He had the best of intentions and a good job but after a few years, a client went bankrupt and left him with unpaid invoices.

He also wrote that he had been in an accident and couldn't work, his roommate kicked him out and he has been living with family ever since.

He asked me to make it clear that he wanted and wants to support his children and is behind on his payments only because he is not making enough money to even support himself.

He said the courts won't help him (he can't afford an attorney) and reduce the payments and he often goes without necessities just to save money to make the payments.

"So I, along with quite a few other fathers, are trapped in a system because we cannot pay and we cannot afford an attorney to straighten it out," he wrote. "I am awaiting the final step...where they will jail me for non-support. Then I will truly have nothing, as I will lose the client base that I am working with for my income."

"I will come out of jail with nothing...I am about to lose what little I have left."

He also wrote, "I have heard that several fathers have taken their own lives as a result of this system." He ended with "Death or Jail. Tough call. Please do a little investigative work before you lump everyone into one category."

He signed it "An Anonymous Desperate Father."

I have no way of getting in touch with him, although he says he reads the WKYC website so "...that is how you can get in touch with me."

I can only say that I hope he will accept my apology for making a sweeping generalization. Not all fathers that don't make child support payments are "deadbeats" and I know that now.

I hope that he realizes that if he takes his own life, his children will grow up without him. There's always hope and public defender services.

Try the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland website to get help for free. It covers five counties in Northeast Ohio.

You can also call that covers seven Northeast Ohio counties.

Please get help. Every life is precious.


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