DELHI _ A Deposit man has opted to go to prison rather than pay child support, Delaware County Undersheriff Douglas Vredenburgh said Thursday.

Carl H. Burrows, 32, of Deposit, was arraigned on a sealed indictment in Delaware County Court on June 9.

Burrows pleaded guilty to a felony count of first-degree nonsupport of a child, and Delaware County Judge Carl Becker sentenced Burrows to one-to-three years in prison.

"(Burrows) was adamant that he wasn't going to pay," Vredenburgh said.

The case is the first felony prosecution in Delaware County under the Deadbeat Dad' legislation that was passed in New York in the mid-1990s, Vredenburgh said.

Vredenburgh said a defendant can only be prosecuted under the felony statute if they have already been convicted of second-degree nonsupport of a child, a class A misdemeanor.

Burrows pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor level charge in Delhi Town Court on March 5 and was sentenced to three years of probation. He was also required to pay $52 a week in child-support payments and continue until the $39,000 he owed in back support is paid.

On May 27, Burrows was arrested for a violation of probation for not making any payments.

Burrows' attorney, Christopher Wilson of Oneonta, refused Thursday to comment on the case.

Laurie Schmitz, the mother of Burrows' 13-year-old daughter, Mia Burrows, said it was "a huge relief to know that something has finally happened."

Schmitz, 32, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., said Thursday that she has known Burrows since she was about 12 years old; she was 18 when she had Mia.

Schmitz moved to Florida when Mia was a year old. She said Burrows came to Florida when Mia was 2 or 3, staying for a month, and it was the last time he saw her.

Schmitz said she sent Mia's school pictures to Burrows' family every year and occasionally called him, but he never made any effort to see his daughter or communicate with her.

"You can't force someone to be a father when they don't want to," Schmitz said.

Schmitz said she tried for years to collect child support from Burrows, but the last time she received any was in 2005, when he was ordered to pay $3,900 or go to jail. She said the original child-support order was issued in 1996 and required him to pay $28 per week.

Schmitz credits Jeffrey Bowie, a Delaware County Social Services investigator, with pursuing her case against Burrows.

"They spent hours looking for him," Schmitz said. "I have gone to New York three times for court appearances, but he never showed up."

Schmitz said Delaware County paid to fly her from Florida to testify before the grand jury.

"It only took the grand jury about 30 seconds to indict him," Schmitz said. "It was really very emotional for me."

Schmitz said she hopes her victory will encourage other mothers to fight for their child's right to support.

"There are a lot of people out there that will not fight it because they don't know how to pursue it," Schmitz said. "Let this be a lesson that it can be done."

Schmitz said she doesn't expect to recover all of the money her daughter is entitled to.

"I've become immune to the fact that he is never going to pay _ but why should he be out and about making money and enjoying himself?" she asked.

Schmitz said that if Burrows gets out of prison and fails to make payments, she intends to pursue having him charged and arrested again.

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Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at stardelhi@stny.rr.com.

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