With his dark, luxuriant locks, thick mustache and penetrating stare, Joseph William Stroup might have been seen as a catch back in 1998.
Twenty years on, Stroup’s silver-tinged mustache droops, and his scalp gleams beneath thinning hair.
But he was no less in demand Friday, as he shuffled into a downtown federal courtroom — the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ most wanted “deadbeat” parent.
Of all the parents wanted for back child support, Stroup, 64, tops the list. He owes $559,900, according to the Office of Inspector General’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The No. 2 guy on their list owes less than half that.
“We don’t usually have egregious cases like this, in that he allegedly lied to the court [in 1989], saying he was unemployed and medically disabled, while at the same time we learned he was operating a successful business, which he sold for over $2 million and then fled to Canada . . . ” said Todd Silver, a spokesman for the department.
The department currently has 55 open child-support cases, Silver said.
Back in the summer of 1989, a judge in Michigan ordered Stroup, who is from Kalamazoo, to pay $100 a month in child support for his four children, according to the department. The court took pity on Stroup, when he claimed to be unemployed and medically disabled. His child-support payments were dropped to $14 a month.
Seven years later, it came to light that Stroup was running a successful internet company. Stroup was ordered to pay more in child support, according to the department. But from June 1996 until the present, Stroup quit paying anything toward his kids, the department says. The feds issued an arrest warrant in July 1998.
Stroup was finally arrested, after a Canadian national recognized him from the department’s website and then alerted authorities, Silver said. Stroup had been living in Calgary under a fake name, authorities said. The spokesman said it wasn’t clear when Stroup was arrested, but he said the fugitive was transported stateside Thursday.
Local and state authorities typically ask Health and Human Services to get involved in child-support cases when: one of the two parents who owes money moves out of state; the deadbeat parent has failed to make payments for more than a year, and the parent owes more than $5,000 in back support.
Dressed in a jail-issue bright-orange jump suit, Stroup made a brief appearance in court Friday, agreeing not to resist his transfer back to Michigan, where he’s charged in the child-support case.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Martin agreed to keep Stroup in custody for his trip home, after an assistant U.S. attorney argued he posed a “severe flight risk.”
It wasn’t immediately clear why Canadian authorities brought Stroup to Illinois rather than his home state of Michigan.
Stroup’s attorney declined to comment after Friday’s brief hearing.