Outside a home in Mount Washington, Allegheny County deputy sheriffs arrested John Zajch -- for the 12th time in four years -- for failure to pay child support.
Kevin Kraus, an Allegheny County sheriff's office commander, said that on Jan. 29 a judge issued a bench warrant on Mr. Zajch for failure to pay child support. On Thursday, investigators received information that Mr. Zajch was staying at the Mount Washington home, and they began monitoring the premises.
"The detectives were conducting surveillance on that location early this morning," Mr. Kraus said Friday, noting that Mr. Zajch and his adult daughter came out of the house around 6:30 a.m., and deputy sheriffs took him into custody without incident.
Mr. Zajch, 45, moved from Connecticut to Pennsylvania in 2009 and brought with him a debt of $109,000 in unpaid child support. Since then his child support debt has remained in excess of $100,000, making him one of Allegheny County's most well-known child support nonpayers.
"In the eyes of the sheriff's office and law enforcement he's one of the more habitual offenders we've dealt with," Mr. Kraus said.
In 2011, Mr. Zajch was arrested more than four times for failing to comply with court orders mandating child support payments. On May 6, 2011, a judge ordered him to live in alternative housing until he paid $5,000 in child support or got a full-time job and had his wages garnished for four consecutive months.
Lt. Jack Kearney said that Mr. Zajch's most recent incarceration for failure to pay child support was Jan. 18-21. Mr. Kearney did not know the specific situation surrounding that arrest.
"Usually they'll give you a set amount to pay, you know, X amount of dollars or six months [in jail] for contempt," Mr. Kearney said.
Mr. Kraus said that, although Mr. Zajch's case is notable due to the large sum of money owed, the sheriff's office pursues all child support nonpayment cases.
Mr. Zajch is being held at the Allegheny County jail.
Brett Sholtis: firstname.lastname@example.org.