A Juneau business owner who refused to pay child support the past nine years will spend 10 days in jail for the crime.
Carl T. Wallers pleaded no contest in Juneau District Court to allegations he owes $44,595 in back child support for his daughter, 11.
Although Wallers is part owner of a Juneau logging company, he has not voluntarily given a dime to his daughter since a court ordered him to pay child support in 1992, said Barbara Miklos, director of the state Child Support Enforcement Division. The only money the child received was Wallers' permanent fund dividends seized by the agency, she said.
"That's one of the things that made this case unique. He's never made a voluntary payment," Miklos said. "It's pretty sad. People have a responsibility to support their children."
Wallers' attorney called the sentence inappropriate, saying the jail time will take Wallers away from the workplace where he could be earning child-support money.
"It's not helpful in terms of the goals of enforcing the judgment, which is to get him to pay child support," said Eric Hedland, a public defender in Juneau.
Judge Peter Froehlich sentenced Wallers to 180 days in jail with 170 days suspended on the condition that he make regular child support payments. Froehlich also sentenced him to five years probation and ordered Wallers to pay $600 a month starting Oct. 3.
The dollar amount is double the original order of $300 a month because it includes back payments plus interest, Miklos said.
Miklos noted it's unusual for child support enforcement cases to go to court and very rare for defendants to serve jail time. Out of 48,000 active cases, only 30 have gone to court the past three years and only two defendants were sentenced to jail in 2001, she said. Miklos considers jail time a last resort but said court showdowns are an effective tool to force compliance.
"Of all the cases we've taken to court, every one is making their payments," she said.
The state was unable to deduct child support from Wallers' pay in the past because it did not know where he worked, Miklos said. The agency has since learned he is co-owner of Green Diamond Logging in Juneau. Court documents also show a Haines mailing address for Wallers, and Froehlich ordered him to report to a Haines jail Oct. 3.
Wallers could not be reached for comment.
Kathy Dye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.