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For nine months after his divorce became final in October 1999, James K. Sutherland paid the child support ordered by the court for his three children.
Then, after a payment in July 2000, the payments stopped, and Sutherland's debt to his children steadily grew over the years, reaching more than $286,000 in arrears.
Sutherland's failure to pay child support for more than a decade raises serious questions about his reliability and his ability to manage the finances of a $55 million sports complex that uses $30 million of V.I. taxpayers' money.
Sutherland refused to be interviewed for this article.
The specifics of Sutherland's failure to pay child support are clouded by the delinquency being administered in two states - Colorado and Florida - and public officials' reticence in those states to discuss a specific case.
In addition, Sutherland's ex-wife, Dawn Sutherland, declined to speak to The Daily News, and Sutherland himself also refused to return calls to The Daily News about this issue or any other issues regarding his involvement with the Frederiksted sports complex project.
Sutherland and his wife divorced in Palm Beach County, Fla.
Kathy Burstein, a spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Clerk's Office, said that as of Friday, the past-due amount of child support that James Sutherland currently owes is $287,916.99, comprising $161,287.93 for child support and $126,629.06 for interest.
In the final judgment dissolving the marriage in 1999, a judge ordered Sutherland to pay $1,090 per month in child support for the three children born of the marriage, who were 4, 5 and 7 years old at the time.
The judge also ordered Sutherland to pay child support retroactive to January 1997, except for two months. The order states that the couple had been separated since December 1996, except for a six-week period in March and April of 1999 - the two months that were removed from the retroactive dates.
In the order, the judge also notes that Sutherland already was $33,790 in arrears for child support through September 1999. The judge set the interest rate at 10 percent and ordered Sutherland to pay.
According to the court order, payments are to be made by income deduction - in which an employer deducts the amount from wages - but notes that Sutherland is responsible for paying, if all or a portion is not paid that way.
The judge gave sole custody of the children to their mother.
Court records indicate that Sutherland made the monthly child support payments for several months after the judgment, but the payments stopped abruptly after July 2000.
The case was referred for child support enforcement and eventually, in 2002, the Florida judge's 1999 order was registered in the Colorado court system in Denver, where Sutherland was living at the time, so that it could be enforced there.
Every state and territory has an agency designated for child support enforcement. In Denver, that duty falls to the Denver Department of Human Services. One of the duties assigned to child support enforcement agencies is tracking down deadbeat parents who aren't paying their court-ordered child support and enforcing the orders.
Agencies from different jurisdictions often work together. When a non-custodial parent skips out on paying child support and moves to another jurisdiction, agencies from different jurisdictions often join forces to enforce the payment of court-ordered child support.
In Sutherland's case, the Florida Department of Revenue - which is Florida's child support enforcement agency - and the Denver Department of Human Services asked the court to accept the Florida judge's orders into the court system so that the orders could be enforced in Denver.
The judge did, so and the order was registered in the Denver court system as a civil case.
Much of the information pertaining to child support enforcement is considered confidential, unless it becomes part of a court record.
The Daily News obtained court records from Palm Beach County and from Denver in Sutherland's case.
The documents shed some light on the case and provide some point-in-time summaries of what has transpired. However, they are not a record of all activities associated with child support enforcement and do not provide a complete picture of everything that has occurred regarding Sutherland's failure to pay child support.
The court files show that, through the years, the Denver Department of Human Services periodically filed motions asking the judge to cite Sutherland for contempt of court for failing to pay child support as ordered. Citations were issued and hearings on the citations were scheduled.
Usually, those hearings were vacated and the contempt citations were dropped without prejudice - meaning they could be refiled - because Sutherland was not properly served with the citations.
Some years show no child support payments being recorded, and in other years, Sutherland made occasional payments, according to court documents.
In 2006, Sutherland was properly served with a citation for contempt of court for failing to pay child support.
On Dec. 14, 2006, Sutherland appeared in court, was advised of his rights on the contempt citation and pleaded not guilty, according to the court record in the case. A hearing on the citation was set for Feb. 15, 2007.
At that hearing, Sutherland confessed through his attorney, and a sentencing hearing was set for June 21, 2007, according to the court record.
That hearing was continued, and it actually occurred on Aug. 23, 2007.
According to the court record, the attorney handling the case for the Denver Department of Human Services told the judge that Sutherland was paying the child support and asked the judge to dismiss the contempt citation.
The judge granted the request.
Just more than a year later, though, the Denver Department of Human Services once again asked a judge to issue a contempt of court citation to Sutherland.
Court documents show that from May 2007 through early 2008, child support payments were made on a regular basis.
Then the payments stopped again.
According to the Denver Department of Human Services' request on Sept. 1, 2008, asking the judge to cite Sutherland for contempt, Sutherland failed to make his child support payments from April 1, 2008, to Aug. 30, 2008.
The judge issued a citation and set a date for Sutherland to appear and answer the citation, but again, Sutherland was not properly served and the matter was vacated.
A judgment and certificate of delinquency dated Oct. 21, 2008, filed by the Palm Beach County Florida Clerk and Recorder shows that on that date, the total amount Sutherland owed in past-due child support had reached $113,327.
The judgment and certificate of delinquency also was filed in Denver.
A couple of months earlier, on Aug. 4, 2008, a private child support enforcement company that Dawn Sutherland was using filed a lien in the Clerk and Recorder's Office in Arapahoe County, Colo., in connection with the case. That lien states that as of July 17, 2008, Sutherland owed unpaid support of $176,265.99.
The reason for the discrepancy in the amount that is noted in the October 2008 judgment and certificate of delinquency and the lien placed by the private company is unclear. Dawn Sutherland's use of a private child support enforcement agency did not alter the way that Sutherland was supposed to make child support payments, through the Florida State Disbursement Unit.
The Florida State Disbursement Unit acts as a bank for child support, accepting payments, including electronic payments, and disbursing them.
The last record of a payment that Florida's State Disbursement Unit has in connection with the case occurred in 2008, Burstein said. She also said that Sutherland was ordered to pay $1,090 monthly thru May 12, 2013.
Citing confidentiality rules, Revekka Balancier, a spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Human Services, refused requests for an interview about the case and information about its current status, including outstanding amounts owed.
Balancier instead referred The Daily News to the court file for the case in Denver District Court.
Also citing confidentiality rules, representatives from the Florida Department of Revenue would not answer questions specific to a certain case.
The most recent documents in the Florida court file, which is where the case is based, include several notes from the Denver Department of Human Services to the Palm Beach County Family Court.
One, dated April 15, 2011, provides a notification that the case is currently "in locate for address and employment info."
Another, dated June 3, 2011, inquires about removing the oldest child off the case, although it also notes that the order is fixed and the monthly support obligation will remain the same.
The most recent correspondence in the court file, from Denver Human Services to Palm Beach County, dated Dec. 30, 2011, and filed with the court in January this year, notes that Denver is asking to close the case for enforcement there because Sutherland "no longer lives in Colorado, he's now living in Ohio."