A former Kansas City man who purportedly told a border enforcement officer that he would rather “go to jail than pay his child support” may soon get that opportunity.
Randy Lee Essary, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to fleeing the United States after 1996 to avoid paying $1,500 a month in child support, which had been ordered by a Jackson County judge. The child now lives with his mother in Utah.
Essary spent at least some of those years in Thailand, where he worked as the senior vice president of a hotel group based in the Philippines and Hong Kong.
He made at least one trip back to the United States, flying first to Canada and entering on foot at a border crossing in Blaine, Wash., court records said. He left by the same route.
Federal prosecutors charged him in 2010 with fleeing the country to avoid making payments. He owes $164,891 in unpaid child support, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Customs and Border Patrol agents arrested Essary at Los Angeles International Airport on Feb. 22, 2012, as he entered the country with $7,800 in U.S. and foreign currency and carrying a ledger showing a 2010 bank balance of $99,000, court records said.
Prosecutors said Essary faces a sentence of up to two years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution.