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Mom Says Santa Is Deadbeat Dad

December 22, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ A mother who took her son to see a shopping center Santa Claus recognized the jolly old soul as her ex-husband and slapped him with court papers branding him a deadbeat dad.

``Daddy is Santa!″ the little boy exclaimed during last month’s confrontation in a Brooklyn mall.

LaToya Ramirez said she reached into her purse and handed Neil Ramirez court papers that claim he had failed to pay child support since July 1.

``He put them in his sack,″ she said.

``He’s sitting with all these kids in his lap, saying, `Ho! Ho! Ho! What do you want for Christmas?″ she recalled. ``I’m saying, `What does your son want for Christmas?‴

A few days later, Ms. Ramirez returned to the shopping center and again confronted ``St. Nick.″ She said he poked her in the chest, and then she pummeled him.

Ramirez said he never touched his ex-wife, but conceded children were screaming, ``She’s beating up Santa Claus!″

The police were called, but no arrests were made.

Despite the fray, Ramirez remained on the job all month at the Gallery at Metrotech shopping center in Brooklyn. He even joined Mayor Rudolph Giuliani one afternoon to hand out presents to kids, the Daily News said.

He was not on the throne on Monday, however. Mall spokesman David Eden said: ``Mr. Ramirez has not worked at Gallery since last week. He was a contract Santa, one of four, and his contract was up.″

Ramirez claimed he is not the deadbeat portrayed by his ex-wife. He said he also has two children by another woman, Maritza Rivera, who told the News that in the past 10 years, she has received a total of $15 in support for two sons, ages 13 and 11.

``Women are so evil,″ he said. ``They got all these deadbeat dads out here, and I’m trying to be a father to my son.″

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