Daily Hampshire Gazette
Volume 211, Number 301, August 28th, 1997
‘Deadbeat’ Dad Sweep Nets Nine
By Stephen C. Hill
Knocking on doors and searching closets, officials worked into the early morning hours today in a roundup of men who had failed to make court-ordered child-support payments. They made nine arrests in Hampden County but could not find two “deadbeat dads” believed to be in Hampshire County – one in Belchertown and Northampton.
The sweep was part of a crackdown by the state Department of Revenue, the agency charged with collecting child-support payments in the state.
“This is also a message to others out there who aren’t paying their child support. “Parents should live up to their obligations and pay their child support…” spokeswoman Diana Obbard said.
In the sweep last night and early today, three men were arrested in Ludlow, three in Springfield, two in Holyoke and another in Chicopee. They owed a combined total of $83,000 in back child-support payments, according to Obbard. Those arrested were among 20 men sought on warrants issued by the Hampden County Probate Court. They were to be arraigned there this morning.
“They may be seeing some jail time if they don’t come up with some money,” Obbard said.
An appointed Constable, Scott Goodkowsky, and two assistants began their rounds in a mini-van about 6 p.m. Monday and concluded about 2 a.m. today. He runs the Constables’ Office, a private firm in Chicopee that was hired by the Department of Revenue to seek out nine deadbeat dads.
Goodkowsky and his men caught one man hiding in a closet and another behind a water heater in a utility closet. In Belchertown, their success was limited. The knock came shortly before midnight and startled a woman who came to the back door of a yellow Jensen Street bungalow. Goodkowsky, a large, crew-cut 37-year-old wearing a bulletproof vest, identified himself and tried to calm the woman as he asked if the wanted man were home.
“I don’t have any idea where he is right now … last I heard he was in Florida,” said the woman, who said she is the man’s mother.
Goodkowsky was not surprised. His latest information, two months old, listed a Texas address for the man, he said, but he had to check. Goodkowsky gave her the Texas address and urged her to tell her son to contact him.
“It’s not real bad; it’s not a criminal matter, so don’t lose sleep over it,” Goodkowsky said, but added that “it’s not going to go away.”
It was then on to Northampton, to the Grove Street Shelter, one of the two possible city addresses of another deadbeat dad. The man moved out in late July, possibly to Chicopee, the staff person on duty told Goodkowsky. On to Straw Avenue, where Goodkowsky had information that the wanted man might be living, but he could not be located there either.
Goodkowsky will be paid $125 for each arrest by Hampden County, but the probate court judge can order the person arrested to also pay Goodkowsky another $300 to $400.
Obbard noted that the DOR, with access to the payroll, tax and banking records, has the power and ability to track down delinquent parents and garnish their wages or intercept a tax return. The DOR collected $270 million in child support payments for custodial parents last year, Obbard said, adding that the agency will assist any parent in collecting child support and can act as an intermediary between parents.
“Very often parents want to deal with us because they don’t want to deal with each other,” said Obbard.
All About Holyoke
Holyoke Sun, August 27th – September 2nd, 1997
Jail Politics Irks Constable
By Ryan Whirty
Sheriff Denies Jail Refuses Prisoners
“We would never do that. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.”
Michael J. Ashe, Hampden County Sheriff, and Jail Administrator
Scott Goodkowsky leaned back in his chair Monday as the person on the other end picked up the phone. Goodkowsky, a Hampden County Constable based in Chicopee, put his hands to his mouth as John Kenney, the Deputy Superintendent of the Hampden County Jail, talked to him over speaker phone.
While Goodkowsky’s dog, Sam, growled and toyed with a bright yellow tennis ball, Kenney told the Constable that the jail would, as a “one-time courtesy”, take the prisoners Goodkowsky would arrest that night in a sweep of local deadbeat dads.
The news, in Goodkowsky’s words, “took a load off my shoulders”. At first, he says, Kenney told him the jail would not accept anyone arrested by the Constable in the sweep. As a result, with precious hours to go before he was scheduled to venture out on the sting, Goodkowsky, a Holyoke native, had nowhere to drop off his potential arrestees. “I’m kind of hurting for a place to put these people”, he said at the time.
But after getting word that Rich McCarthy, the jail’s public information officer, had told a neutral party Monday morning that the jail had [no] room for Goodkowsky’s prisoners, the Constable called McCarthy and asked exactly what the deal was. A few minutes later Goodkowsky received the call from Kenney, who then broke the good news to the Constable. Kenney’s decision received such a positive response in Goodkowsky’s office because rounding up deadbeat dads is a large part of Goodkowsky’s business.
Monday’s sweep was ordered by the State Department of Revenue, representatives from which contacted both the Hampden County Sheriffs and Goodkowsky’s office in an effort to net the fathers who have fallen far behind in their child support. But, Goodkowsky said his office fights with the sheriff’s office for state business when it comes to arresting the deadbeat fathers. “It’s very cutthroat and competitive,” he said.
According to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Office, Hampden County Sheriffs, Inc., is a for-profit organization. The president and treasurer of the corporation, Michael J. Ashe, is also in charge of the operation of the jail. Goodkowsky charges that the Sheriff’s Department has frequently turned his arrestees away at the jail for profit-minded reasons. The Constable pointed to Kenney’s original position that Goodkowsky could not drop off his deadbeat dads Monday night as evidence. “That seems kind of corrupt, if you ask me,” he said. But Ashe, responding to Goodkowsky’s allegations, vehemently denied that his department turns away prisoners caught by other agencies.
“We would never do that,” he said. “No ifs, ands or buts about it”.
Local Deputies Hunt For ‘Deadbeat Dads’
By Jack Farrell
Chicopee–based Constable Scott Goodkowsky was also touring the county last night searching for other deadbeat parents. He and a partner we’re scheduled to visit Springfield, Agawam, Holyoke and Easthampton.