15 May 2009

A former owner of a Vanuatu resort pleads guilty to fleeing the US

5:31 pm on 15 May 2009

The former owner of Vanuatu's Erakor Island resort, baseballer Troy Neel, has pleaded guilty to fleeing the United States to avoid paying more than US$700,000 in child support.

However the Daily Post reports that the former Oakland Athletics player's lawyer told a federal court in Texas has no money and disputed the amount owed.

Neel, who faces two years in prison, was ordered to begin paying child support in 1998, but prosecutors say he began falling behind within the first year.

According to court records, he soon fled to Vanuatu on a tropical 16-acre resort that was purchased for a reported $1.5 million, while unpaid child support stacked up to over 700-thousand US dollars.

Neel was arrested at a Los Angeles airport last December as he got off a flight from Australia.

The State Attorney General has described Troy Neel as the most egregious child support evader in Texas history.