, Salem, MA

December 20, 2012

Former Beverly ‘deadbeat dad’ back in custody


---- — BEVERLY — A former Beverly man who excused himself from the table during a holiday dinner and abandoned his family more than a decade ago will spend Christmas in jail, after disappearing once again while on probation.

Peter Cantin, 54, was arrested Tuesday in Conway, N.H., on a warrant obtained by his probation officer.

Cantin, who at the time owed some $75,000 in child support for his two children, was number three on a Department of Revenue list of the 10 worst “deadbeat dads” back in 2007, and was arrested a day later, after officials received an anonymous tip about his whereabouts.

At that point, he’d missed four years of payments. Eventually, he worked out a plea agreement that called for him to serve six months in jail and pay $58,000 in back support to his ex-wife.

He paid a portion of the money. Then, he asked for permission to move back to New Hampshire.

Probation officer Jeff Dowd told a Salem District Court judge that New Hampshire twice refused to accept the responsibility of supervising Cantin.

Cantin moved there anyway and again stopped making any payments. That was four years ago.

On Thursday, Beverly police Sgt. David Richardson made the trip to New Hampshire to arrest Cantin.

Cantin’s lawyer, John Morris, chalked up Cantin’s actions to confusion over his probation status.

The lawyer acknowledged that Cantin could have done more to stay in touch with Dowd, describing a couple of phone calls to the probation officer that went to voice mail.

Dowd told Judge Robert Brennan that he had contacted police in Conway several times during the past four years, telling them to advise Cantin that there was a warrant for his arrest.

Morris said he doesn’t know whether the messages were relayed to Cantin. But Brennan suggested that in a relatively small town, it’s unlikely that police would have ignored Dowd’s requests.

Brennan ordered Cantin held in custody until a hearing on Jan. 7 to determine whether he has violated his probation in the case.

Cantin’s children, who were 10 and 16 when he left, are now adults.

His former wife, Glenda, was not in court yesterday. She did not return a message left for her by last night’s Salem News deadline.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.