An old debt can come back to haunt a salary earner even after the passage of more than two decades.
The garnishment of the salary of the Mahoning County Job and Family Services director to pay a 22-year-old rent debt from a former retail business he operated begins Friday, the county auditor’s office said.
About $730 will be deducted from the salary of Robert E. Bush Jr. every two weeks until the $70,758 debt is paid off or Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court releases the garnishment order she issued Dec. 17.
Bush, who earns $111,738 a year, is being garnished 25 percent of his net pay after taxes — the maximum allowed by the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act.
The debt stems from unpaid rent, utilities and common-area maintenance charges for a beauty products supply business Bush operated at the Cafaro Co.-owned McGuffey Mall between 1987 and 1991.
When the Cafaro Co. initially sued to collect the past-due debt, Judge Charles J. Bannon of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court issued a default judgment for $14,396 in February 1991.
After that order wasn’t heeded and informal attempts to resolve the matter failed in subsequent years, the Cafaro Co. returned to court last year seeking repayment of the debt, which, by then, had mushroomed to $70,758 through more than two decades of compounding interest.
This month, the mall company asked that the county be found in contempt of court for neglecting Judge Sweeney’s order for five months.
County Payroll Director Thomas Lyden said JFS staffers were unable to locate the original garnishment order that was delivered to them by certified mail Dec. 20, and that he had to obtain his own certified copy of the order from the county clerk of courts office to initiate the garnishment.