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Bell-ringer arrested on warrant outside Norwalk drug store

Cary Ashby • Nov 29, 2012 at 11:32 PM

This charity bell-ringer will be celebrating Christmas from the Huron County Jail.

Matthew J. Cox, 29, of 14 Cortland St., was arrested on a child support-related warrant about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday as he was ringing a bell in front of Walgreens, trying to drum up money for a charity. He then was transported to jail to serve a 30-day sentence.

Huron County Sheriff's Deputy Kayla Zander made the arrest after receiving a tip that Cox was at the East League Street business. Cox's warrant was issued Oct. 18.

"She found out he was ringing for a local charity," said Sheriff Dane Howard, who complimented Zander on her professionalism in handling Cox's arrest.

A Walgreens manager who declined to be identified said she didn't know how long Cox had been ringing and didn't know anything about him.

"I've had bell-ringers for a couple weeks," the manager said.

Zander confiscated the red kettle, its contents, the bell and tripod. Howard said his office will hold onto the items until they can be returned to the charity.

"I asked the deputy how she felt about this (arrest). She was very straight-forward. She said she had a job to do and she was there to do it," Howard said.

"She said if she put the charity in a bind, she'd gladly come out and ring the bell," the sheriff added.

Zander is assigned to serving warrants issued through the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA).

"She's assigned to the CSEA program ... and serves warrants on individuals who have failed to pay their child support," Howard said.

"These are (for) chronic abusers of that system -- not just people who have missed some payments. ... This is a very serious matter."

About Wednesday's arrest, Howard said this is an example where deputies can't be influenced by their belief systems. He also said the bell-ringing incident reminds him of an incident years ago when a Richland County-area officer arrested a man dressed as Santa Claus and charged him with driving under the influence.

"Often times deputies are put into difficult situations," the sheriff said.

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