~ Company operator sanctioned for refusing to follow court order ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced the imposition of a quarter of million dollar fine against the operator of a private child support collection company for refusing to follow a court-ordered injunction prohibiting his company’s business. Stuart C.
Cole, operator of Child Support Services of Atlanta, Inc., was fined $250,000 for violating a 2006 injunction obtained by the Attorney General’s Office after the company was accused of taking child support payments and threatening those responsible for providing the funds.
“Under no conditions will my office permit unscrupulous individuals to steal money from children,” said Attorney General McCollum who added when child support money is withheld in disregard of the state’s legal process, it hurts the custodial parents, the non-custodial parents, and the children involved.
In May 2006, the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division obtained a temporary injunction prohibiting several related child support companies from initiating private child support collection efforts within the State of Florida. The companies – Child Support Network, Inc., formerly known as Child Support Enforcement, Inc., and Nationwide Child Support, Inc. – were owned and operated by Cole. The injunction prohibited the businesses, as well as Cole, from collecting contingency fees on child support payments.
Those fees were obtained by misrepresenting income deduction orders and other legal documents to non-custodial parents and their employers. The injunction became permanent by court order in December 2006.
In June, the Economic Crimes Division discovered that Cole was operating a Pinellas County business named Child Support Services of Atlanta, Inc. Investigators determined that the company was directly violating the terms of the permanent injunction and Economic Crimes attorneys were able to secure the sanctions against Cole, who was ordered to pay the $250,000 fine. Additionally, the circuit court judge froze the business’s banking accounts and ordered that the Attorney General’s Office review records of the business to determine whether the banking funds should be used to refund money to children and their parents.