WAYNE COUNTY DA REFUSES TO CHARGE BIGGEST ALLEGED DEADBEAT ON OVER 100 INCIDENTS OF DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec 12, 2005
Lyons, NY - On Monday, Dec. 12th, John Murtari, a long time village resident, appeared for Trial before Village Justice Forgione for driving with a suspended license on July 12th. Assistant DA Richard Wunder was prosecutor. Murtari represented himself and in his opening statement admitted he had driven on over 100 other occasions and had driven to court that morning and was planning on driving home afterwards. Murtari challenged the constitutionality of the law which allows DMV to suspend the licenses of parents who are behind in child support payments. In filed motion papers before the trial he claimed this was little more than a form of debtor's prison and that the system doesn't measure real support for children, just money paid a specific way. It ignores the Civil Right of a parent to contact with their own children and just wants money instead.
State records show Murtari is over $55,000 behind in support payments and may be the biggest 'deadbeat' in Wayne County. He rejected an earlier plea deal that would have resulted in just a fine and instead wrote the Court and DA's office giving details of over 100 other incidents of driving while his license was suspended. He told Wayne County DA Richard Healey that he wanted this matter resolved honestly. He wanted the great support and love he had given his son recognized and didn't want to live in fear of being arrested as a criminal in his home town for the slightest traffic violation.
Judge Forgione denied his motion to be arraigned and tried on the additional incidents and said he had no authority to determine if a Civil Right's violation had occurred or the constitutionality of the law. The DA's office was also opposed. The brief trial focused on just the one incident and Murtari was found guilty and ordered to pay a $200 fine. He told Judge Forgione that he would not voluntarily pay any fine, but was given till January 6th to make payment. Murtari was very disappointed that the additional potential violations were just being ignored by the DA's office.
In a sworn affidavit submitted prior to the Trial he stated he loves his son, Domenic (12), very much and is doing everything he can for him. Due to a relocation to California Murtari has spent over $55,000 in travel and other expenses associated with seeing his son. He claims his former spouse has extensive financial assets and what his son cherishes and needs is regular contact with his father. They have maintained a strong bond even after six years of separation.
Murtari does not approve of 'real' deadbeats, those parents who simply ignore and don't care about their children, but believes most cases are caused by a system that can too easily make a parent's contact expendable in a child's life. He believes alleged deadbeats should get the same legal protection given criminals and a chance to prove how they are supporting their children to a jury.
Murtari is a former Air Force Academy Graduate and Air Force Instructor Pilot with a strong record of community service. He is a lector at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Lyons and is the National Coordinator for the group, AKidsRIght.Org, made up of mothers and fathers who lost contact with children they love. They want the nation to recognize and protect the Civil Rights of all parents to raise and nurture their own children. The group's web site is: http://www.AKidsRight.Org/
For more info:
Media Contact: Teri Stoddard 925-628-1206
John Murtari: 315-430-2702 (cell)
Letter & Motion admitting driving and challenging law:
Letter to DA Healey requesting prosecution on additional incidents: