Tuesday, December 07, 1999

Brooks freed from jail to pay support

Ex-Bengal to work for concrete firm

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Former Bengals running back James Brooks was freed from jail Monday so he could start working to pay off the more than $110,000 he owes in child support.

        Mr. Brooks, whose football contracts sometimes exceeded $1 million, will begin working this week for about $10 an hour at a Cincinnati concrete company.

        Judge Steven Martin assigned him to a work-release program that will likely keep him out of jail for the remaining three months of his six-month sentence.

        In addition to his job at the concrete company, which the judge did not identify, Mr. Brooks also will be a mentor for a youth football program.

        Prosecutors did not object to the judge's move and have said their goal all along was to resume support payments to two of Mr. Brooks' children.

        A grand jury indicted Mr. Brooks on criminal charges this year, prompting prosecutors to seek his return from England. He had been working oversees for several years and was living with his new wife.

        At a hearing last month in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, Mr. Brooks' attorney, Michael Barrett, described his client as a broke, unskilled laborer who earned $7 an hour at a warehouse job.

        Mr. Brooks, 40, testified that his only marketable skill was playing football. He remains the Bengals' all-time leading rusher with 6,447 yards.

        His wife, Emma Brooks, said in court that her husband was “barely literate” and suffered from a learning disability.

        Mr. Brooks said his monthly child support payments are unreasonable because of his financial problems. His attorney indicated he would attempt to reduce the amount.

        Prosecutors said Mr. Brooks is obligated to pay about $2,600 a month to support three of his children.

        The criminal charges only involved two children. The mothers of those two have said they he has not paid them anything in years.

        Under Ohio law, up to 55 percent of Mr. Brooks' wages at the concrete company could be deducted to support the children.


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