Take A Cruise, Go To Jail

In case you’re considering a cruise you should note that customs agents are taking their passenger manifest screening duties seriously, very seriously. As one Maryland father and his family found out you can run from your past, but you can’t hide forever. Patrick Clerkin’s story is told in The Washington Post (Registration required – BugMeNot).

The Caribbean cruise ship docked at Port Canaveral, Fla., that morning, and Patrick and Bernadette Clerkin and their three children awoke tanned and relaxed and ready for their trip home to Maryland.

There was a knock at their cabin door. Patrick Clerkin, owner of a Brandywine roofing company, was about to take a shower, so his wife answered to find three U.S. customs agents.

Politely and almost apologetically, the agents announced that they were there to arrest Patrick Clerkin.

“This must be some kind of mistake,” Bernadette Clerkin told herself as the children giggled at seeing their churchgoing father being led away.

It wasn’t a mistake, and today, nearly three months later, Clerkin, 41, finds himself in a Florida jail still.

The charge dates back more than two decades to his less-than-glorious years as a hard-drinking teenager, when a police officer in Pensacola, Fla., arrested him for stealing a pair of hubcaps.

A Florida judge sentenced Clerkin, then 19, to three years’ probation, the conditions of which included that he pay $363 in court costs and notify his probation officer if he moved.

Clerkin failed on both counts, which triggered a 1984 arrest warrant. Clerkin said he didn’t know about that until the customs agents, who routinely review ship passenger lists, arrived at his Disney cruise ship cabin April 29 and charged him with violation of probation.Poor schmuck. The only one he has to blame is himself…

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