MILWAUKEE (WITI) — You only have to spend a couple of minutes with Casey to see he’s something special. He’s the kind of kid that makes you want to have kids. And at 3 years old he’s chock full of life.
It’s hard to imagine what parent wouldn’t want to give him the world. But his own father barely gives him a dime.
“He’s paid a total of a $189 in three and a half years,” says Jennifer Cvikel, Casey’s mom.
She says he only paid that much just to keep himself out of jail.
If you do the math, John Rau has paid less than 14 cents a day since his son was born. It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. You see, Casey has leukemia.
“It’s a nightmare, I mean, your world just crashes right in front of you and you don’t even have a chance to react to it,” Cvikel remembers. “They just started taking him and this and that and more testing and then we were stuck in the hospital for weeks.”
For a year and a half, Casey suffered through chemotherapy, spinal taps and dozens of hospital stays. He even had to learn to walk again with physical therapy.
And through it all his father has not been by his side.
Instead, he’s been on Facebook, bragging about how much money he makes at his job, showing off his new “family whip,” and boasting about having tickets to a Packers game. When WITI investigator Meghan Dwyer confronted Rau about not paying support, he said he didn’t know his son was sick until last Christmas and he intends to start paying support.
But all of his bragging on social media is exactly why he’s now facing felony charges for failing to pay child support.
And Rau isn’t the only one.
Melissa Jones got a nose job instead of paying her child support.
Theoris Stewart calls himself an R&B sensation, but instead of paying for his kids, he bought a fancy music studio.
Robert Ellis has 17 kids. Kelvin Jones has 13 kids. And Antonio Burks has 11 kids. They one thing they all have in common ? They haven’t always paid their child support.
“They don’t think they’re going to get caught,” says Maureen Atwell, an assistant district attorney at the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
And that’s where they would be wrong. Take John McCroy as an example. He’s supposed to pay $100 a month to support his 5-year-old little girl. He paid that.
But since then, he’s been busy posting selfies on Facebook and making music videos in his custom car.
“I feel like if he could be out here being flashy that he can take care of our child,” says the mother of one of his children, Canience Haynes.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office agrees. And all of his posts on social media websites are making it easier to hold him accountable.
It’s not a crime if you can’t pay child support. It is a crime when you can afford to pay and you don’t pay on purpose for at least four months.
“I think the most important thing I do in my job is to weed out people who are simply too poor to pay their child support from people who can pay their child support and choosing not to,” Atwell says.
In other words, separating the deadbeats from the dead brokes.
“Social media has made a pretty big difference in our cases because it is a pretty good tool in determining who has resources and who doesn’t,” Atwell says.
McCroy doesn’t just have the money, he’s flaunting it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube — everywhere you look.
“Stacks and stacks of money, all this jewelry, the cars. It was just, like, wow, really?” says Haynes.
Of course, there is one way to get out of paying your child support. When we confronted McCroy he said he was ineligible to pay support because he died in a car accident.
When we asked him where he got all of the money he’s showing off on Facebook, he said he made it selling mix tapes. His rap name is Mr. JakItDown. He admitted he hasn’t paid child support in five years, but he insists there was a paperwork error.
“He not gonna sit here and lead a flashy life and not help me,” Haynes says.
Lucky for her, that flashy life may be the one thing that finally makes him pay up.
“I really think that it is not that they are too stupid to realize that this is evidence. I think they think nobody cares,” Atwell says.
But the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office does care. And investigators are making sure if moms are left to raise kids on their own that the fathers don’t get to just walk away.
“I don’t have a choice to just turn around and close my eyes and walk away. That’s not an option for me,” Cvikel says.