Former Saints player Robert Meachem began serving a 30-day jail sentence Monday, having failed to pay nearly $400,000 in child support and alimony owed to his ex-wife.
To get out, Meachem needs to cough up at least $100,000 for Andrea Rhodes, with whom he has two children. Otherwise, he will be behind bars until March 15, according to a ruling from Judge Adrian Adams of Jefferson Parish's 24th Judicial District Court.
Adams turned down a request by Meachem for a new trial. The judge also fined Meachem $500 for showing up at a deposition last year without bringing an assistant who was supposed to testify about certain financial information.
The legal saga dates back to 2014, when Rhodes and Meachem separated after nearly six years of marriage. They finalized a divorce in 24th Judicial District Court in 2015, agreeing to share custody of the children.
A domestic court hearing officer in November calculated that Meachem owed $588,000 to Rhodes in alimony and child support, of which he had paid only about $200,000. The officer suggested that Adams find Meachem to be in contempt of court.
Adams endorsed the hearing officer's suggestion on Jan. 6 and gave Meachem until Jan. 20 to pull himself out of contempt by paying the $388,019 he still owed.
Meachem missed the deadline. Three days later, Rhodes' attorneys moved for her ex-husband to "be immediately imprisoned until support payments are made," as called for by Louisiana law.
A Jefferson Parish judge has found former New Orleans Saints player Robert Meachem in contem…
Several weeks before Adams sent him to jail, Meachem testified that he believed his inattentiveness to his bank balances had allowed a former officer of one of his charitable foundations to steal much of his money from him.
He also said he had given power of attorney and access to his funds to an assistant who had been taking hundreds of thousands of dollars out of his accounts without his knowledge or direction, though he stopped short of calling it theft.
Rhodes' attorneys countered that much of Meachem's alleged financial loss would have occurred before he told court officials that he could afford to pay $20,000 per month — dating back to the summer of 2014 — to support his ex-wife and their children.
Rhodes' lead attorney, Mitchell Hoffman, said his side on Monday requested an order barring Meachem from accessing any money the National Football League may have set aside for him as a retired veteran. Rhodes contends that she owns an interest in any such funds.
Otherwise, Hoffman declined to discuss Adams' ruling.
Meachem's attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Meachem spent the first four and last two of his seven NFL seasons with the Saints, scoring nearly 30 touchdowns and helping New Orleans win its lone Super Bowl title. The former first-round draft pick out of Tennessee last played in 2014.
In his lone season away from New Orleans, Meachem landed his most lucrative playing deal, signing a contract with the San Diego Chargers that guaranteed him $14 million.
The Chargers cut Meachem after his one season, during which he struggled to perform up to expectations.
The Saints last year honored Meachem for one of the most memorable plays in franchise history. That play occurred during the Super Bowl season, when he ran in for a touchdown after ripping the ball away from a Washington safety who had just picked off Saints quarterback Drew Brees.