A wee bit of free advice, if I may.
If you owe $560,000 in back child support, have managed to evade capture for 20 some years and are considered by the American government to be that country’s most wanted deadbeat dad, maybe don’t try to defraud a restaurant. That is to say, be smarter than Joseph Stroup, or Joop Cousteau, as he had been calling himself during his time on the run.
Living in the Calgary area, Stroup had become somewhat of a regular at the Bears Den — a now-closed restaurant just outside Calgary’s city limits to the northwest in the community of Bearspaw — and was well liked by the staff.
“Just over the top charming,” said Scott Winograd, the restaurant’s former general manager and co-proprietor.
But that changed in November following an unusual request by Stroup.
“One day out of the blue, he ordered a Cherry Coke and he wanted eight maraschino cherries in it, which is just bizarre. That just doesn’t happen,” said Winograd.
But the customer always being right, staff put the drink together and served it to Stroup.
“About a minute later, he calls the server over and he’s clutching his jaw and says, ‘I bit into a pit and broke some dental work,’ and he holds this pit up,” said Winograd.
Problem: maraschino cherries don’t have pits in them, at least not that I, or the folks at the Bears Den, have ever seen.
And Stroup wasn’t quite done being…er…stroupid.
“He held up this pit that looked like a regular cherry,” said Winograd.
“Fair enough. My supervisor handled it and the next day, this gentleman comes in with forms from a dental office, and it looked sketchy because it was all handwritten forms… it didn’t look official by any means, but he had his name on it, and his birthday.”
Armed with that information and a sense that he might be about to get fucked here, Winograd headed for the Google. The first thing he found was a Facebook page that had been started by one of Stroup’s sons, and a few clicks later…bingo!
“The picture was him from 20 years ago, a spitting image,” It was absolutely him,” he told the CBC. “Nothing had changed, just older, hair loss, glasses now, but I was sure it was him.”
To make absolutely certain, he invited Stroup to come to the restaurant for some dinner and some settlement talks. Stroup took him up on it three times, it says here. All the while, Winograd was in contact with Canadian authorities who said there wasn’t a whole lot they thought they could do, as well as American ones who had no such issue.
Stroup was arrested in February by Canada Border Services and now lives in the United States again. The country is putting him up for free while he awaits trial. Hopefully he’s spending his downtime reading books about what fruit looks like.