[This is a reprint of an article originally appearing in the Milwaukee media.] Joshua Fritz was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in the House of Correction for failing to repay child support payments that he took from employees’ checks.
The security company owner can avoid the jail time by paying about $1,000 by Sept. 1 for each of the nine cases in which he owes money, under the ruling from Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Michael J. Dwyer.
Fritz also must turn over his records containing child support information to the Department of Child Support Enforcement for Milwaukee County.
The agency will then determine exactly how much Fritz owes his employees in child support that he deducted from their checks, and the agency will set up a payment plan for him, said Janet Nelson, interim director of the child support enforcement agency.
Fritz was supposed to turn over the records in mid-July but didn’t show up for court. That’s when warrants were issued for his arrest.
Public Investigator has been writing about Fritz since December after interviewing a handful of employees who said he owed their children thousands of dollars.
Employers deduct payments from employees’ checks and then send the money to the Department of Child Support Enforcement, which distributes the funds.
Fritz, who owns a private security company called Special O.P.S. LLC, is accused of deducting money from employees’ paychecks and failing to turn it over to the state. In May, Fritz told Public Investigator he’d pay back the money but he hasn’t done so.
In mid-July, Fritz failed to come to court to show his payment records and to explain what happened to the cash.
Last week, Fritz was arrested as he worked as an armed security guard outside the East Pointe Pick ‘n Save in Milwaukee.
Fritz’s attorney, Christopher Ertl, said his client simply ran into money problems with his company.
“It’s a difficult economy,” Ertl said, noting that Fritz intends to pay back all of the money.
Fritz’s former employees, however, say that their child support was being siphoned away before the economy tanked.
Luis Cruz Jr. said he stopped working for Fritz in February after spending two years as a public safety officer for his company.
Cruz said Fritz has deducted about $1,800 from his paychecks but never sent the money to the state so Cruz’s kids could benefit from it.
“He shouldn’t have stolen our money in the first place,” Cruz said.
Fritz was expected to be released from the Milwaukee County Jail on Tuesday after posting $900 bail. His next hearing will be next month when he will be expected to pay the $1,000 on each pending child support case, Nelson said.
Ed Note: Chris Ertl is no longer with the firm. He can be contacted through the Ertl Law site. With Chris’ departure, the firm no longer handles criminal law matters.