Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold could have sentenced Michael G. Glover to three years in jail yesterday.
Instead, the judge gave the child-support scofflaw a suspended sentence and some advice on how to lower his court-ordered payments to his former wife in Westminster.
The judge's action enraged Sheree Brown, the former Mrs. Glover. She hasn't collected one $726 monthly payment since their 1985 divorce.
"This is ridiculous!" she screamed as she stormed out of the courtroom, slamming the door behind her.
"I can't believe this! He doesn't pay, the system doesn't care!" she yelled at Assistant State's Attorney James E. Brewer, who had sought either to increase the amount of money Mr. Glover should pay his former wife or to throw the defendant in jail.
Mr. Glover, a former $70,000-a-year executive at an auto parts company, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal nonsupport of a minor child in July. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to a suspended three-year prison sentence so long as Mr. Glover began making his regular court-ordered support payments.
He was given until last September to begin making the payments. By the end of the year, he already was more than $3,100 behind.
In March, Judge Arnold found Mr. Glover guilty of violating the terms of his July agreement, but did not send him to jail.
Between that hearing and yesterday, Mr. Glover has racked up almost $6,000 in back support obligations.
Mr. Glover told Judge Arnold yesterday that he now works for an Allentown, Pa., company at a salary of $200 a week and that his employer is withholding more than $100 of that money to make support payments.
"This is basically a vendetta against me," the 32-year-old defendant told the judge.
"You were playing games with us, Mr. Glover, you were hiding from us," the judge responded. "What you have to do is get the amount of support you owe reduced. . . . I see no reason why you can't go to court and file for a reduction."
Judge Arnold took exception to Mr. Brewer's request for an order that would force Mr. Glover to make a payment of several thousand dollars to Mrs. Brown.
"He's getting in deeper and deeper," the judge said in rejecting Mr. Brewer's request. "What incentive does he have to work?"
Judge Arnold set another sentencing date in September, and told Mr. Glover to continue making whatever regular payments he can.
The judge encouraged Mr. Glover to do whatever he can to get his $726 monthly payments reduced.
Mr. Brewer asked Judge Arnold if Mrs. Brown could make some comments.
"This case gets completely out of hand, and I don't want to hear any allegations that he has the money and he's hiding it in the Bahamas," the judge said, denying that request.
"Is the system messed up?" Mrs. Brown said later yesterday from her Westminster home. "Yes, it's messed up. It stinks."
Mrs. Brown said she is frustrated by a system that seems to be stacked against her and her three children, especially after the effort she put into trying to locate her former husband after he fell more than $12,000 behind in support payments.
Mr. Glover surrendered to Carroll sheriff's deputies March 11, 1992 after he was arrested near his suburban Philadelphia home nine days earlier.
Mrs. Brown and her current husband staked out a Phoenixville, Pa., post office box that Mr. Glover had rented last year and had him arrested on the nonsupport charge after alerting local police to his whereabouts.
Mr. Glover had not made a child support payment since the couple divorced in 1985. They have battled in courtrooms, at each other's homes and over the telephone about their sons, ages 11 to 16, who have moved back and forth between the parents.
Mr. Glover had remarried -- he has since divorced again -- and moved from Carroll County to his home near Philadelphia.
Court records show that he had an annual income of $70,000 as recently as 1989, but he said after his arrest that he never paid child support to Mrs. Brown because she "harassed" him and his new family.