Saturday, March 30, 2013

Karma's a Bitch

Sometimes, events occur that make me rethink (for awhile) my growing cynicism about the fairness of life.  Or maybe it's just that I'm a miserable SOB at heart, but the news out of New Jersey this week concerning Powerball winner Pedro Quezada?  Maybe it really is true that, sooner or later, you get what you deserve.

Pedro won the latest Powerball drawing, winning an estimated $152 million (after taxes).  The usual investigation into his life (nosiness) that happens to all major lottery winners revealed that he was a deadbeat dad, owing more than $29,000 in back child support payments dating to 2009 and that there was an active warrant out for his failure to pay.  NJ officials say that they will hold the warrant in abeyance pending his scheduled court appearance next week.

Ordinarily, I'd be a little pissy about someone who had demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to accept the responsibility of providing for his child and intentionally failing to provide such support when so ordered by the court for a number of years (all while purchasing lotto tickets every day at the same location) winning such an amount of money.  But in this case, it may have been a case of the dark cloud's silver lining finally showing up for this child and his/her mother.  There is no doubt that there will be legal action taken to remedy not only the arrears, but to secure a suitable trust fund for the child (and, presumably, the mother). 

I'm quite sure that lawyers have already been contacting the woman, offering her their services.  I can't imagine any of them relying on Mr. Quezada's good will to provide for the child in the future any better than he has in the past.  In fact, it has also been revealed that there are 4 other children (one now an adult) who also have valid claims to a share of the windfall, due to his failure provide support in the past.  One would assume that lawyers are contacting them, as well.

Mr. Quezada has said that he plans to be "generous" with his winnings, both to friends and family here and back in his native Dominican Republic.  If I were any one of his children, their mothers, or their lawyers, I'd take great steps to ensure that provisions for the care of his children were taken care of, with trust funds set up or money put in escrow for their future (completely free of ties to or influence by Mr. Quezada) before any money was sent out of the country.  For that matter, I'd at least try to set it up where the money went directly to his heirs' accounts (in amounts decided by Family Court) before he even gets his first check.  He's already proven he can't be trusted to do the right thing on his own.

Mr. Quezada has indeed been blessed with what some may say in light of his behavior to have been outsized good fortune.  However, given that he is facing significant financial penalties for failing to provide court ordered support for his children (the amounts he owes in arrears will not be affected by his winnings, but look for future payments to be adjusted upwards.  Greatly.),  and that the future of these children may have just gotten a little bit more secure, a little bit better than it was before, I find that I can accept his good fortune to the extent that it provides for children who had no say in their circumstances and frees the general taxpaying public from the obligation.

In a world populated by responsible adults, held accountable for their obligations, a man such as Mr. Quezada would have to repay--with interest--all monies expended by the state(s) for the care of his children (ANFC, Food Stamps, Welfare cash benefits, Section 8 housing subsidies, schooling, free school lunches, Medicaid, etc.).  I don't know whether or not New Jersey law provides for such a "claw back", but it seems to me no more than just.  Or, to use a term favored by the advocacy groups on the left: It's about time Mr. Quezada paid his "fair share".  Especially in light of the fact that he has just become so emphatically a member of the hated 1%.


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