Divorce & Hidden Money: Evading Child Support By Going Offshore
One of the worst child support cases I know about is Janet O. v. James O., slip op. 51985 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County, October 17, 2006). The ex-husband in Janet O had not made any child or spousal maintenance support payments for 30 years. By moving from New York and living offshore in Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, the ex-husband evaded enforcement proceedings on behalf of his ex-wife & their 3 sons. Consequently, the ex-wife and their 3 sons were relegated to poverty and public assistance.
Meanwhile, the ex-husband remarried and adopted his new wife’s 2 daughters. Ultimately, the New York court referred the Janet O matter to federal prosecutors. When a parent moves offshore to evade child support, federal prosecutors may bring a criminal case pursuant to the Child Support Recovery Act at 18 U.S.C.§ 228 et. seq. A parent criminally charged with violating 18 U.S.C.§ 228 hopefully has an additional incentive to pay child support.
Elements of A Case Under 18 U.S.C. § 228 (a)(2)
18 U.S.C. § 228 (a)(2) covers a parent who crosses state lines or leaves the country in order to evade child support. A violation of 18 U.S.C. § 228 (a)(2) is punishable by up to two years imprisonment and by a fine up to $250,000. To show a defendant violated 18 U.S.C. § 228 (a)(2), a federal prosecutor would prove these elements at trial:
- the defendant traveled in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent of evading child support obligations;
- the defendant had a past due child support obligation exceeding $5000;
- and the obligation is unpaid for more than a year.
Additionally, a prosecutor may use Federal Rule of Evidence 404 (b) to supply evidence at trial about the defendant’s: motive; opportunity; intent; plan; etc. For example, pursuant to Rule 404 (b) a prosecutor might show the jury the defendant’s tax returns to prove the defendant could have paid the child support obligation.
U.S.A. v. Juelle-Albello
Like the ex-husband in Janet O, Mr Juelle-Albello was accused of moving offshore to evade child support. In U.S.A. v. Juelle-Albello, federal prosecutors indicted Mr. Juelle-Albello for his suspected violation of 18 U.S.C. § 228 (a)(2). Mr. Juelle-Albello married Diana Umpierre in Puerto Rico on 11/8/1991. On 6/26/2007 Mr. Juelle-Albello and Ms. Diana Umpierre were divorced. Among other things, Mr. Juelle-Albello was suppose to pay $13,893.81 a month for child support through the Puerto Rico Child Support Administration (“ASUME”). As of June 2018 Mr. Juelle-Albello’s outstanding debt to ASUME reportedly was $1,868,012.50.
According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Juelle-Albello made no payments to ASUME from July 2013 to June 2018. Instead of making the payments, Mr. Juelle-Albello moved to Florida in 2011 where he lived with his new wife and new daughter. Then during 2014, Mr. Juelle-Albello left the U.S. for Mexico. However, in July 2018 Mexican authorities placed Mr. Juelle-Albello in U.S. custody by deporting him pursuant to an arrest warrant in U.S.A v. Juelle-Albello. The list of evidence prosecutors intended to use at Mr. Juelle-Albello’s trial included: Mr. Juelle-Albello’s record of payments to ASUME; court orders from the Court in Bayamon, Puerto Rico; Snapchat photos; etc. On 8/12/2019 Mr. Juelle-Albello pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 228 (a)(2). Mr. Juelle-Albello’s sentencing is now set down for 7/21/2020.
Copyright 2020 Fred L. Abrams
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