Steamboat Springs A 40-year-old California man who reportedly owes $26,000 in child support to an Oak Creek woman for their two sons has been charged with a felony in Routt County.
Donald Mark Bell of Santa Rosa, Calif., was arrested last week by California authorities and transferred to Colorado where he was booked into the Routt County Jail Sunday. He has not made a child support payment in nearly two years, prosecutors said.
Bell appeared in Routt County Court Monday afternoon and was released on his own recognizance.
Deputy District Attorney David Moffat allowed Bell to return to California.
"I want you working," Moffat said.
Bell has been charged with nonsupport of children or spouse, a class five felony.
If convicted of the charge, he faces a minimum of six months in prison or a maximum of six years.
Bell's Denver-based attorney, Dale Hendrickson, could not be reached for comment.
Moffat said while these types of cases are rare, the circumstances in this case required criminal charges. "When it gets bad enough, a person can be charged with a felony," Moffat said.
Moffat said Bell has a long history of not paying child support to his former wife, Anna Marie Creason of Oak Creek, who could not be reached for comment Monday.
According to court records, Bell was ordered in 1993 by a district judge in Arapahoe County to pay $521 per month to the woman for their two sons, ages 13 and 11.
In 1994, Bell was found in contempt for not paying $11,000 by an Arapahoe County judge. However, the judge lowered his support payments at that time to $473 a month, records show.
In 1998, Creason's case was shifted from Arapahoe County, which is in the Denver metro area, to Routt County because the woman moved her family here, records show.
By 2001, Bell had fallen $21,000 behind in his child support payments and since that time, has not paid an additional $5,000, prosecutors allege.
The last payment Bell paid was in April 2000, records show.
Routt County Sheriff's deputies began investigating Bell last summer after he was reported by Routt County Human Services.
A nationwide arrest warrant was issued last November. Authorities suspected Bell was living in California because the last payment he sent included a return address from the state.
Because of the charge, Routt County Judge James Garrecht has ordered that Bell not have any contact with Creason or his two sons.
Bell said the only contact he has with his sons is sending cards during the holidays and birthdays.
Moffat is also asking the judge to order Bell to pay for the trip from California to Routt County, which cost $1,300.
Bell's next appearance in Routt County Court is in May.
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