The nation's worst deadbeat dad, imprisoned for owing $600,000 in child support, must ask a judge's permission before spending money on anything except his debt.

Jeffrey Nichols, who had sworn he is virtually penniless, was hit with the sanction Friday after State Supreme Court Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob learned he recently spent $16,000.The money came from payment from a magazine article Nichols wrote on precious metals and work for the Austrian mint, said his lawyer, Saul Edelstein. He added some of the money went to the woman caring for Nichols' children with his second wife, who died earlier this year.

When she sentenced him Aug. 14 on contempt charges, Gangel-Jacob said Nichols must stay in jail until he pays at least $68,000 of what he owes. He has not paid anything.

Nichols made $180,000 in 1994 as an investment adviser on commodities and precious metals.

He's accused of running from New York to Toronto to Florida to Vermont to avoid paying five years of support for the three children he had with his first wife, Marilyn Nichols Kane.