AZ couple pleads not guilty in child custody fraudPosted: Updated:
A Valley couple pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to defrauding the Maricopa court system, as well as dozens of families, according to court officials.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office had Michelle Madarieta, also known as Ciara Coultrap, and Michael Coultrap, who own and operate Legacy Family and Children Services at 4533 E. Decatur St., under investigation for several months because they believed the Coultraps provided child custody mediation services but weren't qualified to do so.
Don Myers was one of the Coultraps' clients. He said outside the courtroom Thursday that he hasn't seen his son in months due to the situation he was put in by the Coultraps.
"The most important issue for me is having my precious parenting time with my son, who will be 3 years old tomorrow, Pearl Harbor Day. It's been four months since I've seen him," Myers said.
Myers said he selected Legacy to help with exchanges between him and the boy's mother. He said in the beginning they charged $25, which he believed was a reasonable price.
"The exchanges often didn't go well. Mr. Coultrap wasn't always awake on Sunday morning and would change the time from 9 to 8 a.m. to accommodate Mr. Coultrap," Myers said. "On one occasion, I had to call police because Mr. Coultrap would not come out of his house to give me my son. I don't know why Mr. Coultrap would not bring me my son, but the Mesa police eventually completed the exchange."
Myers recalled one of the last instances where he was able to see his son.
"Mr. Coultrap was supposed to walk Travis between his parents ... I was guaranteed that this was a procedure that would be followed. Later, without explanation, (his) mother started pulling into Mr. Coultrap's driveway rather than the park. When I asked why the change was made, I was angrily told by Mr. Coultrap that since I was asking questions I would be charged an administration fee of $125 before I could see my son."
The boy's mother claimed Legacy was court ordered so he couldn't leave, and Myers said his transfer fees went up from $25 to $50.
Myers said he hasn't seen his son since early August.
"I have not had any contact due to Legacy's bad practices." Myers said. "All I want is my parenting time."
The couple told reporters outside the courtroom that they had no comment.
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