The Lee County Sheriff's Office in Opelika, Ala. took a creative approach to rounding up a few parents who'd fallen way behind in their child support payments: they told them they'd won free tickets to the annual Iron Bowl, and then they arrested them when they came to collect on the prize. It's like To Catch A Predator, but with more malice, because these people just wanted to watch a football game.
"Yaaaay!" a fake worker told a man in his moment of triumph. "You won!" Yes. He won a free school bus ride to the local detention facility:
One by one, suspects who were wanted by authorities for a total of more than $270,000 worth of unpaid child support were arrested after arriving at a festive, football-themed location on Second Avenue in Opelika, complete with balloons, streamers and highlights of the 2010 Iron Bowl being shown.
The suspects were transported to the Lee County Detention Facility to await a hearing at which bail will be set, said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.
The local law-force went all out to create an environment built for crushing disappointment and shame, all caught on camera for your viewing pleasure: the parents who'd received and responded to the congratulatory letter were greeted with shouts and balloons. "Are you an Alabama or Auburn fan?" they pretended to want to know. And then the parents — some of whom came during their lunch break — were promptly brought into another room, handcuffed, and escorted to the bus as Van Halen's "Jump" faded in the background and "Walk This Way" or "Another One Bites The Dust" started in.
Still, they only deserve so much of our sympathy: those contacted by the sheriff's office each owed "at least $30,000 and up to $75,000" in unpaid child support.
"They're going to need to come up with some money," Sheriff Jones told WRBL.
If only they could have scalped.