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Deadbeat dads: It's D-Day Harford Co. targets delinquent parents


BEL AIR -- Police swept through Baltimore and three Maryland counties last night, delivering Father's Day surprises to deadbeat dads: warrants for their arrest.

The sweep, the first of its kind organized by the Harford County Sheriff's Office, targeted nearly 300 parents -- mostly fathers -- who have not made child-support payments.

"This is going to be a Father's Day some of these gentlemen are going to remember for quite some time," said Lt. Jesse Bane, who organized the raid for the Sheriff's Office.

But only about 20 of the delinquent parents were caught last night, facing charges of contempt of court and failure to obey court orders, authorities said.

A total of 54 police officers, working between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m., delivered arrest warrants in Baltimore and in Baltimore, Cecil and Harford counties. The warrants were issued as a result of delinquent Harford cases.

The officers received their assignments during a briefing at the Harford Circuit Courthouse, where they were given lists of the 300 delinquent parents.

The list was topped by William Robert Wood, a 45-year-old Baltimore County man who owes $31,610 for two children, according to the county Department of Social Services. He has been sought by police since December 1991.

Mr. Wood most recently lived in the 7100 block of Rolling Bend Road, and last made a support payment in January 1991.

Mr. Wood -- who tops the state's most-wanted list -- remained at large last night.

The officers made the rounds of the last known addresses of the delinquent parents.

Lieutenant Bane traveled throughout the area to coordinate the raids.

Progress was slow at first for the officers. Many of them could not find the people named in the warrants.

In Havre de Grace, two patrolmen traveled down Battery Drive, stopping at four houses in search of one of the suspects. They came up emptyeach time.

"Now you see why police work is so frustrating," Lieutenant Bane said as he watched the officers go back to their cruiser.

Acting on a tip, Deputy Gary Cowan of the Harford Sheriff's Office and Cpl. Alfred Cloud of the Havre de Grace police went to a small brick apartment building off Lodge Lane. There, they found their man.

James Miller Wallace was soon wearing handcuffs and being escorted to the police car.

Mr. Wallace, 26, is accused of owing $1,035 in support payments.

"These delinquent fathers need to understand that law enforcement is done playing around with them," the lieutenant said.

4( "This [raid] is just the beginning."

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