A Snow Job Success

The shady past of OCs newest mega-philanthropist

Who could question the background of a man who organizes a holiday charitable event called "Snowball Express"?

Beginning Friday, Dec. 15, Snowball Express organizer Michael Scott Kerr will fly to Orange County as many widows and children of soldiers killed by the War on Terror as possible—free of charge. Put them up in hotels—free of charge. Treat them to a day at Disneyland, a shopping spree at the Irvine Spectrum, a party at Oakley's Foothill Ranch headquarters, and a private performance of the Crystal Cathedral's famed The Glory of Christmas.

All free of charge.

Snowball Express is such a noble-sounding endeavor that high-profile corporate donors have lined up to help Kerr fund it; Southwest Airlines, the Anaheim Ducks, Taco Bell, Disneyland and Quiksilver are among the largest. Local chapters of the Rotary Club will volunteer. Kerr told the Los Angeles Times that corporate donations of merchandise and services alone total around $1 million.

And when the party's over? Kerr recently applied for nonprofit status to "help [cover] any disparity between military benefits and actual costs for day-to-day living" for families participating in Snowball Express.

But records obtained by the Weekly suggest that Kerr doesn't seem to care nearly so much about his own family. Arizona state documents show that Kerr is wanted in Arizona for failure to pay about $49,000 in child support for his children, 9 and 12 years old.

Because of their heavy caseload, Arizona officials rarely issue arrest warrants. But Kerr's case is apparently rare. In 2001, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge found Kerr in contempt of court for failure to appear at a child custody hearing. In his decision, Judge Raymond P. Lee said Kerr had not only failed to appear in court, but hadn't paid any child support, and had gone so far as to argue he could respond to court orders only through snail mail.

"The Court finds that [Kerr] has willfully failed to pay child support and continues to willfully fail to pay child support," Lee wrote. His Honor then issued a child-support arrest warrant for Kerr, forgivable if he paid a measly $2,000. Kerr is still listed on Maricopa County's Most Wanted list—the one for child support, not felons—which says anyone with "information regarding this individual" should contact officials.

In 2000, another Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered Kerr to pay his employers, Equis Corporation, $78,394.76 for failure to pay child support. Why the Orange County resident would owe his employer for child support is unclear: neither Kerr nor Equis' attorney for the case would comment for this story. The 2000 case was partially dismissed, and the amount reduced to $8,770. Court records don't reveal whether Kerr paid that or any other amount.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 
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