LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) – James Johnson thought it was his lucky day. He had a letter saying he had won two tickets to the Iron Bowl. However it turned out the letter was fake, so were the tickets.
Johnson was one of 12 Lee County residents who fell for "Operation Iron Snare".
It's an elaborate undercover sting that uses the promise of free Iron Bowl tickets to lure in parents who fail to pay more than $250,000 in child support.
"We really didn't expect it to receive this much attention," says Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.
He said this sting made national headlines and hundreds of emails came flooding in. Most were full of praise, but some were filled with criticism and obscenities.
"We had one email that said it must have cost a lot in overtime, but actually these deputies volunteered their time to do this."
Sheriff Jones says the sting saved the department money by brining the offenders to the deputies instead of the deputies trying to track down the offenders. The sheriff says several law enforcement agencies across the nation are now interested in setting up their own versions of "Operation Iron Snare."
Johnson is still behind bars eleven days after his arrest because he can't come up with the amount of child support the court says he has to pay before getting out.
Finally Sheriff Jones says he stands by his decision to invite the media in to film the entire operation take downs and all. He says it brought national awareness to the growing problem of so called dead beat moms and dads.df
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