After 14 Years in Jail over Alimony, Chadwick Finally Freed—Son Worked Tirelessly for Dad’s Release

In 1995, a family court judge ordered corporate lawyer, H. Beatty Chadwick to deposit $2.5 million in the court’s registry to pay alimony to his ex-wife, Barbara Applegate. Chadwick said he didn’t have the money, but the court believed he’d stashed it somewhere during the divorce. So, because Chadwick didn’t pay, the judge jailed him for contempt of court. As this article says, that was when Apollo 13 was box office dynamite and O.J. Simpson was being acquitted of murder (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/11/09). In other words, it was a long time ago. And Chadwick’s been in stir ever since. During that time, the court hired investigators to find the money.
They found nothing, but Chadwick wasn’t released. In his decision to free Chadwick, Judge Joseph Cronin maintained that he could have paid the money, but refused to. Chadwick’s son, William, worked tirelessly for his release. The article gives no information about Applegate. Chadwick, who is now 73, seems remarkably equable about the whole thing, describing prison as “a very artificial society.” Some people use stronger words than that. For the immediate future, Chadwick intends to live with William, but says he needs to find a job, given that Social Security is his only income. He may try to go into teaching or get his law license reinstated. Fourteen years is a long time for not paying alimony that he apparently didn’t have the money to pay. [In a column on this case a few years ago, Wendy McElroy wrote: “A. Leo Sereni, a former president judge in Pennsylvania, was appointed to track Chadwick’s money. Eighteen months and two accounting firms later, Sereni reported no trace beyond what had been discovered a decade before. Money had been transferred to Europe and a small fraction had reappeared in U.S. accounts. Sereni concluded, ‘most of it…nowhere.’ “He recommended Chadwick’s release, stating, ‘My God — if he had stolen $2 million, he would have been out a couple of years ago.'”–GS]

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