Reynold Mason, a lawyer who rose to become the first Caribbean-born state Supreme Court judge, was led out of a Manhattan court in handcuffs yesterday and ordered jailed for refusing to pay nearly $270,000 in court-ordered child support.
Yesterday's court hearing was the first time Mason, who was booted from the bench in 2003, had come to the Manhattan court where his former wife, Tessa Abrams Mason, has been trying to get a 1998 agreement enforced.
Now a Realtor in Georgia, the Grenada-born Mason sat silently as his lawyer, Homer Richardson, argued that the deadbeat dad had no one to borrow money from and begged Justice Joan Lobis not to enforce an arrest warrant issued in April.
"The man came here knowing the consequences," said Richardson. "If he doesn't have the money, he can't pay. He's not going to make it in jail."
Mason told the judge he could no longer afford to pay the same amount of child support he had when he earned more than $136,000 on the bench. He said he has earned $68,000 selling real estate over the past two years.
But Lobis wasn't buying it.
"I have no alternative," she said. "There doesn't seem to be any excusable default."
Yet for his ex-wife, justice came a little too late.
She received notice yesterday that she was being evicted from the Long Island rental home she shares with their three children - ages 16, 14 and 9.
"I'm very sad. I couldn't even look at him," she said. "Why didn't he come with something, even a quarter? I would have worked it out. If I'd seen the money, it would have been a victory. I see no victory here."
Abrams Mason, 47, ran her husband's 1994 campaign for the Civil Court bench in Brooklyn, then helped him win election to the state Supreme Court, where he earned $136,700 a year.
But right after he took that seat in 1998, Mason, 57, left his pregnant wife and their two children. She's been suing him for child support since.
In 2003, Mason was kicked off the bench when Abrams Mason told the state Commission on Judicial Conduct that the former landlord-tenant lawyer had once dipped into a client's escrow account.
In a January interview with the Daily News, Abrams Mason claimed her husband paid off local politicians to get the Democratic endorsement for the bench. He vigorously denied the allegations.