Family Law

Judge orders prosecutors to pay defendant's costs for pursuing 'reprehensible' child-support claim

Falsely accused by his ex-wife, after a bitter divorce, of being behind in his child-support obligations by more than $3,500, Tony Schehtman was prosecuted for months and had his passport confiscated, restricting his business travel.

But last month he won a measure of vindication when a South Florida judge issued a scathing sanctions order. In addition to ordering Schehtman’s ex-wife to pay him $7,645 in legal fees, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Pedro Echarte also required prosecutors to do the same, calling the “pointless litigation,” which proceeded for months after the defendant proved that he was not delinquent, “reprehensible” and “irresponsible,” reports the Miami Herald.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said the prosecutors would not appeal the Jan. 8 order “despite a belief in the merits of our position.”

The case has resulted in a change in policy at the prosecutor’s office, which no longer reports to state officials in Tallahassee that an individual is delinquent in child-support payments based on a parent’s sworn affidavit. It now awaits a court order to do so, the newspaper reports.

Schehtman has hired a California lawyer, John G. Heller, to explore a possible civil suit.

“The state attorney deprived a law-abiding citizen of a fundamental liberty: his freedom of movement,” said Heller. “We will do what it takes to make sure this never happens again.

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