STOP Florida Department of Children and Families Circuit 20

March 6, 2013
Department of Children and Families News Letter

Social Workers Help Children, Families, Vulnerable Adults in Need

Marian B. Scirrotto

There are several Social workers who really care and take their cases very personal and not just a job or paycheck. Those are few that are deserving of recognition, here in the 20th circuit.
Since 2005, I have been a court watcher at the Lee County Justice Center, I have seen success stories, However, I have seen more Horror in Family and Dependency courts.
In my experience with the Florida Child Protection System, I can assure you what I have seen and heard is beyond disbelief. I know every one of the Fl Status 39 and stay up to date on all revisions, which I find that the Sub-Contracting Agencies are NOT complying with at all.
I and my fellow court watchers across this state , find this Extremely Disturbing.
As a voice for the last 8 years, I have made my position very well known. So known, that my door was knocked on too many times with false allegations with the hope that one day, Something would stick.
Having the knowledge I do, Your case workers were unable to prove or pursue.
In 2010, They finally found something to suck us into the system of corruption. With NO Allegations or Association, My grand-daughters estranged mother, who had abandoned her in 2004 and lost her rights to 1 child in New Jersey (2010) , Gave birth while having a drug addiction, which was passed to another new innocent child. Now, we have a legitimate case with this mother..
Because my son and her were never married and there was NO legal court order of custody, We became victims to the system. My son had to jumped threw hoops of fire for 2 1/2 years before his portion of the case was closed.
The mother and other father, did not attend court hearings and were non-compliant with their case plans
The one thing I have found to be a benefit from being a victim and a court watcher, Is I know all the players. I have done my research, I have watched them closely, I listen to them intensely and I can see the money trail that hold families hostage.
The system is Black and White, There should be No shades of Grey for either the Court or the case management. The Status are defined as such to be followed, Not to be interpreted by anyone differently.
Here in the 20th , I can say honestly that only 1 Supervisor and her staff at DCF , Follow the laws, Genuinely, in the best interest of the children and help to the fullest degree, Above and Beyond, To help the children or families reunite.
The Courts, Family Court does not reaffirm Standing orders from Dependency Court, Dependency Court holds NO weight in Family court at all. The entire Family Court system is for profit. Regardless of any standing order, You must BUY your child to have legal custody. The entire Family court system is not in the best interest of the family or the children…
In closing, I have some very strong advice. The 20th Should be investigated and NOW.. Rumors are that several seasoned DCF employees are leaving . Those in charge, have Never done their job to know their job. You are about to see the this circuit implode. Working lunches at the bar are not meant to be.. Lucifer Services supervisors and case managers should not be entertained by DCF Operations.
The click of drunks, Should NOT be openly seen and heard during court recess.
Professionalism is Non-existent, when the public can hear them cursing and bad mouthing fellow workers. One of which was referred too as a fucking cunt for knowing how to do her own job and the job of that OPA . Making sexual remarks about male staff members is very inappropriate to say the least and offensive..
(Not to jeopardize the job of the seasoned well known person, she was speaking of, I will keep that to myself unless needed in the future.)
I will be watching and listening in the coming weeks, The interest of what will be happening is too hard to resist and I sincerely Hope, You take my advise. Remember the Black Eye the media will have in store, as they feed off failure. And, The BEST INTEREST of the families..
Marian B. Scirrotto

“Committed to Change”

“If you can read this, thank a teacher-and, since it’s in English, thank a soldier !!”


And they did NOT take my advise,However,They

DID go back for my grand-daughter !


Parents Increasingly Turning To Federal Courts For Civil Rights Protections


Imagine you are in a divorce.  You’ve been a dedicated parent and you aren’t a convicted felon or being accused of a crime.  Now imagine walking into a local court for a procedural hearing and in a single decree your children are banned from seeing you, speaking to you or communicating in any way based solely on hearsay and allegation.  Nothing’s been proven, no due process has occurred to prove anything yet a capricious judge has made a snap decision that changes the rest of your life and your children’s.   What would you do?


Unfortunately this scenario is the real life experience of thousands of families across the country. An overzealous or biased Judge makes a snap decision that takes away the most important things in our lives.  Whether or not you were the one seeking divorce there’s very little that parents who find themselves in this situation can do.   Even when children are banned ‘temporarily’ from their parents, months can drag on to years between court dates and there’s no pause button in life.  Milestones go by, alienation grows, bitterness increases and worst of all children experience immense pain and loss.   Surprisingly most states have no provisions to intervene when children are banned from their parents yet this is one of the cruelest punishments that a court can levy.


While the US Constitution gives the powers of marriage, divorce and adoption to state civil courts, state civil courts simply ignore their obligations to support the civil rights protections of parents as held in the US Constitution.   Parents who can’t afford attorneys can lose their children fighting spouses with access to legal assistance.  Children who are the ones ‘protected’ have no say in bizarre custody decisions.  Evidence standards are non-existent in family courts in the USA so children can be taken from parents purely on accusation.  However, since many courts receive federal aid and recent Supreme Court cases like Turner vs. Rogers have reinforced the concept of due process in divorce many parents are turning to federal courts to seek restoration of their parental rights based on civil rights arguments.


As parent Gary Treistman of Ulster County, New York who recently filed a civil rights suit against New York says, “Losing access to my children for no crime or proven allegations is a violation of my civil rights and my children’s civil rights.”  Treistman continues, “I’ve not been convicted of any crime or any wrongdoing, yet a civil court is punishing me and my children more harshly than a criminal court could for most any crime based entirely on hearsay and unsupported accusations.”     Treistman knows he has an uphill battle but like so many other parents seeking civil rights protections in divorce he has no other recourse.    Treistman is hoping that the Federal Courts will uphold his child’s civil rights to due process and that Title 42 laws will allow him to seek retribution from New York State for taking his children away for years without due process or substantive cause.



As M says, a mother from New York who recently lost her children for no logical reason, “removing my child is the greatest punishment a court could impose yet due process is ignored and I have nowhere to appeal.” As the primary care giver for her young child M was shocked when a Judge made the snap decision to temporarily remove her daughter from custody based on vague and unproven allegations.  In M’s case, like so many others in New York and elsewhere the Judge imposed an extra layer of cruelty by forcing the former stay-at-home mom to have her visits supervised.  But with ‘visitation’ costing over $200 an hour and visits limited to only a few hours M finds it impossible to maintain a relationship with her young child and her child is under tremendous psychological stress from the situation.

After thirty appearances in Family Court that have led nowhere M decided to file suit in Federal Court for violation of her constitutional rights to due process and parental rights to protect her child.  As M states, “Legal Guardians, custody evaluators and attorneys have tremendous unchecked power in New York without the protections of due process we are led to believe we have as Americans.”  One baseless allegation to an irritated Judge from a connected attorney can lead to life-shattering decisions that are near impossible to change.  With no jury or effective supervision of the courtroom behavior of judges or custody evaluators recommending such harsh punishments families have no guarantees of due process. Once the tables are turned against a parent and child by a Judge, legal guardians or custody evaluators there are no checks and balances ensuring the integrity of the cruel and unusual punishments that family courts can decree.


Though M is realistic about Federal Courts jurisdiction she wants change in the system as much as she wants relief from the pain of being separated from her child.   “It’s my hope that this federal complaint will protect parents from their right to fair and speedy trial and raise awareness of the cruel punishments parents face without due process in cases where there are no signs of abuse.”  It’s near impossible for children and parents who are banned from each other to contain their emotions in terse, supervised meetings yet New York officials notate every remark, touch, tear and comment and tend to use emotion against the banned parent.  M hopes her appeal for due process for both her and her daughter will force New York State to look at evidence and not base their decision on hearsay.  After thirty appearances in family and supreme court  M has little hope to regaining a normal relationship with her child.

While some parents are seeking civil rights protections under the 14th Amendment and others are seeking compensation for unjust actions under Title 42, still others are seeking RICO prosecutions against groups of attorneys, judges and court appointed experts who work together to bankrupt families.   As New York parent Gary says “the assigned Attorney for Child in my case coerced payments from me without providing accounting of her work, or representing my child’s wishes.”  Since legal guardians are supposedly critical representatives for children’s legal rights, by refusing to work when payment wasn’t possible Gary and parents like him face tremendous punishments for not being able to pay expensive court-ordered divorce professionals.


In New York for example, where both parents must file for sole custody, the costs of court ordered experts can exceed $50,000 including custody evaluators, guardians and attorney’s fees.  Parents who can’t afford to pay find themselves without their children.   When groups of judges, experts and attorneys repeatedly work as teams to use child custody as the basis for huge fees that bankrupt families, some parents believe that there is basis for RICO prosecutions.   Since the local courts are not bound by due process and ethics enforcement of judges, attorneys and experts is near non-existent groups of divorce professionals can easily use the court system and custody as tools of extortion.  Unfortunately for parents, criminal RICO statutes must be brought forth by the US Government and the US Government is unwilling to review the business practices of the divorce industry in many states.

Many parents who face the cruel and unusual punishment of parental rights termination have turned to activism to raise awareness to the lack of civil rights that families encounter in family courts in America.   For example, Greg Roberts started the Family Civil Liberties Union ( to help parents fight unjust removal of their parental rights.  As Roberts’ website accurately states, “Once in the family court system, it can be years and hundreds of thousands of dollars before an average family emerges from the system – broken, slandered, extorted, exploited and forever damaged beyond repair.”  Roberts sees the family court system as “sanctioned corruption” that creates “conflict for cash” with no regard for the civil rights of the children or parents involved.


As Roberts site points out, the ACLU and other civil rights organizations turn a blind eye to the atrocious violations of civil rights that middle class families face in family courts.   Generally speaking the victims of family courts have enough money to pay attorneys for some time and are religious, heterosexual and often times not minorities.  The ACLU is aware of the civil rights abuses that families face in family courts and they have acted on behalf of one family in Montana that they publicize on the ACLU website, however, this was a gay relationship which is an area that is a traditional focus of the ACLU.  The ACLU is unwilling to aid middle-class Americans and children even though hundreds of thousands of children see their lives destroyed each year in family courts devoid of due process protections.


Some insight can be garnered on the US Government’s position on the civil rights of families in the refusal of the US to join UNICEF’s  Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The United States is the only member state of the UN besides South Sudan and Somalia to not ratify this act.  This act “combines a right to protection through the State, parents and relevant institutions with the recognition that the child is a holder of participatory rights and freedoms,” states UNICEF.  This act acknowledges parents as the primary care givers of a child and vastly limits the cases where a child can be removed from a parent.  Since many parents are removed for capricious reasons, this statement from Article 2 of the act would give parents a strong basis to fight unfair removal of custody.  ‘States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.’ Interestingly enough, many of the conservative groups who lobby hard for the rights of the unborn child oppose this bill and the civil rights of living children because they feel that it will provide basis to interfere with home schooling.

In April, 2013 Russia, in a retaliatory action against the United States, banned a list of important US figures from Russia on the basis of human rights violations.  Interestingly enough Russia chose to ban the US Attorney from Southern New York, Preet Bharara.  While the reasoning for Mr. Bharara’s ban was not related to children’s civil rights Mr. Bharara and other US Attorneys should rightly be called out for not protecting the civil rights of children.    The US Attorney’s office is well aware of the collusion and civil rights abuses that are commonplace in US family courts but because of the deep political protections of the Divorce Industry in most states, the Justice Department is uninterested in protecting the civil rights of children and families in the face of a powerful industry lobby.


The parent-child relationship is sacred and deep and should be defended as strongly as any basic human right but sadly, even though these rights have been explicitly recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the United States and in New York in particular, poorly supervised lower courts and agencies use children as extortion tools for a predatory divorce industry.   States have proven themselves unable and unwilling to protect the civil rights of children and families so parents are forced to go to federal courts to protect basic civil rights.   The US Government has presidential authority to intervene in local courts to protect the civil rights of the unprotected as they’ve done for minorities, women the disabled and others.  It’s time for the US to act for the sake of our children to provide due process and civil rights protections in divorce and child custody.  No child should be banned from a parent except in the most extreme circumstances, and it’s time to stand up for the rights of children.


I began the article by asking you to imagine being a parent who has just lost their kids unexpectedly in a mundane and terse court hearing.   Now imagine yourself as a young child who is suddenly told by a court that your parent is a bad person and harmful, though they’ve never committed a crime and have been your loving supporter.  What would you do?


Sources and further reading:


Former DCF investigator gets probation in clean-drug-test-for-sex case

Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 3:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 6:12 p.m.

DAYTONA BEACH — A former Florida Department of Children & Families investigator was sentenced on Wednesday to three years’ probation as part of a plea stemming from accusations he offered a woman his drug-free urine in exchange for sex.

Andrew Thomas

In an unusual move, Andrew Thomas, 32, was offered the plea agreement over the woman’s objections that the punishment was not severe enough. The woman was not in court but was aware of the plea hearing, prosecutor Chris Miller said.


Miller said it was uncommon to offer a plea opposed by the victim. “It’s very unusual,” Miller said. “But it’s not unheard of.”

Thomas pleaded no contest to official misconduct, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.


Circuit Judge R. Michael Hutcheson withheld adjudication of guilt, meaning Thomas will be able to say he is not a convicted felon and won’t lose rights such as the right to vote or own firearms.

Hutcheson sentenced Thomas to the three years’ probation, along with 50 hours of community service and ordered him to continue undergoing mental health counseling.

In exchange for the plea, Miller agreed to drop two additional charges: bribery by a public servant, a second-degree felony, and falsifying records, a third-degree felony.

In agreeing to the plea, Miller said he had to take into account other factors beyond the victim’s objections.


Miller said he was concerned about the credibility of his witness and his ability to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. He also added that Thomas did not have a criminal record.


Thomas did not comment as he walked out of the courtroom. He put his dark ball cap on his shaved head and walked into the rain.

His defense attorney Allison Thero had told the judge that Thomas would be back on a plane and out of state on Wednesday after the hearing.

Miller said he also took into account that Thomas had left the state and would not be living near the woman.

The charges stemmed from a visit Thomas made on May 8, 2012, as a DCF investigator to one of his cases, a woman near New Smyrna Beach. Thomas was accused of trying to get the 22-year-old woman to have sex with him by telling her that her urine test had tested positive for drugs.

Thomas told her that he wished he could help her by taking the test for her, police said. Thomas then said that he would help her if she demonstrated he could trust her by having sex with him, police said.

The woman did not have sex with Thomas but satisfied him by removing her clothing, police said. Thomas used his drug-free urine sample and signed off on documents saying she passed her drug test, police said.


The woman’s boyfriend later called Thomas to confront him about what happened. Thomas claimed he felt pressured to help her and that he was trying to close all her DCF cases.


Thomas resigned the day after being notified of the complaint.


Can Parents Win in Court Against CPS?


Manda Spring

Manda Spring is a published author of books, screenplays, advertisements, and articles (in print magazines and online).

As parent’s we have a lot of responsibilities to our children. We are responsible for the way they grow up, the type of person they become and all of the disciplinary decisions throughout the process. It is difficult to discipline your child but it is also vital to the result of your child becoming an adult.

If we do not correct our kids and allow them to do as they want we can inadvertently raise criminals and adults who believe that doing as they wish instead of following rules and laws is the “normal” way to behave. The case can also be made for parents who overly correct to the point of physical, mental and emotional abuse. There is a huge difference between correction or discipline versus abusive behavior. Abuse can also breed criminals as anger and resentment grow through years of suffered violence and ridicule. The two extremes of the spectrum are dangerous roads to tread.

False Allegations

Your choices in raising your children can sometimes be criticized by others. Anyone can make an accusation to CPS but commonly the people who make fraudulent reports are in the targeted parent’s circle of family and friends.


Custody Battles: When parents go through custody battles for their children, fear and competition can sometimes compel them to making false CPS reports to make themselves look better in court or to punish the other parent. This can backfire though, as all reports must be substantiated in order to make any dramatic changes. If the reports are obviously fraudulent the reporter can get into some legal trouble. Not to mention parents that choose this route often don’t consider how harmful this is to the children involved.

In-Laws: Meddlesome family members can also stir the pot if they believe that the parents are not raising their child according to their standards. This is a dangerous power trip and this type of controlling behavior is not healthy but does contribute to false claims of abuse.

The Ex: Whether it is an ex-girlfriend, boyfriend or best friend, fights can go overboard when CPS is called into the scene. Vengeance is another common reason for untrue reports.

Substantiated Reports

Reports are usually not substantiated without proof. When CPS validates claims of neglect or abuse they generally, depending on the severity of danger or threat of violence, give the parents time to correct the problem through rehab, anger management classes or parenting classes. Again, depending on the threat level toward the child, the social workers may leave the children in the home or remove them until the recommendations are completed by the offender.


What Can You Do?

Regardless of whether or not the allegations are founded, a parent does have rights. They can obtain the advice or full representation of a lawyer to get the children back in the home and fight CPS in court. But, getting a lawyer is not always needed and plenty of cases have been won without the assistance of an attorney.

From the moment CPS enters your life, a person should ask for a manual containing the policies and procedural conduct of the local social workers immediately as well as starting a journal of all that happens. Among the recorded essentials should be proof collected in their favor, if the CPS workers followed each and every step they are supposed to, as well as witnesses that can confirm your side. This is not legal advice, but merely common sense steps to take in order to defend your rights and your family’s rights.

If you can not afford a lawyer there are Legal Document Assistants (LDA) that can help you for a fraction of the cost of a lawyer. “An LDA is basically a paralegal, they have the same education and experience as paralegals and many have worked as such prior to becoming an LDA. We can not give legal advice or represent clients in court but we do all of the necessary footwork for our clients such as: research, preparing all of their documents, writing a compelling declaration, etc. This generally costs the client around 1/10 of what a lawyer charges for the same work.” – A. Helmecy, LDA

But there is a warning when going to an LDA or paralegal, “Don’t be too trusting when it comes to legal assistants. Many “companies” or individuals state that they are legal professionals but in reality they are at best self-taught and at worst scam artists looking for easy prey. A real LDA should be bonded and registered. A person can not get bonded and registered without proving to their county that they have completed the necessary education and are a legal citizen (among other things). Also, if a person claims to be a paralegal, this should raise a red flag. The law states that the term “paralegal” should only be used when a legal professional works for a lawyer, not the public. A true paralegal would know this and would identify themselves to the public as a legal document assistant instead. So, bottom line, if they do not have a registration number then don’t get involved as their business practice is likely illegal.”

Can Parents Win in Court Against CPS?

The answer is yes. Innocent parents do it all the time. If you are guilty, you may have some difficulty getting your kids back so a lawyer is recommended. Either way, when dealing with a legal situation of this magnitude a legal professional is highly recommended for preparing your declaration and documents. You do not want to make costly mistakes that can end up hurting your case.

If CPS has not followed their own rules of conduct, lied, falsified reports, etc. you can sue them in a federal court. This does happen and parents can and do win. The news is never lacking in stories of social workers engaging in criminal activity. Complaints that social workers are removing children for no valid reason is also on the rise. Often when parents win this type of suit they are awarded monetary compensation as well as getting their children back.


DCF, Child Protective Services In Florida Fails Another Child

Father Of Boy Found Dead In Coral Springs Is Angry With The Child’s Mother

by cbs4marlena

CORAL SPRINGS (CBS4) – The mother of a four-year old boy found dead in a Coral Springs apartment on Monday was arrested on unrelated charges. On Tuesday, the boy’s father expressed anger with the mother of his now-deceased son.

Four year old Antwan Hope was discovered after police received several 911 calls from inside the apartment.

Antwan Hope


“I was working and I can say on some of the calls she did not speak and hung up.  We were able to track the calls and that’s when we found the four year old deceased,” said Lt. Joe McHugh of the Coral Springs Police Department.

[worldnow id=8982495 width=385 height=288 type=video]

Destene Simmons, 23, was arrested Monday and charged with driving with a suspended license. She appeared in bond court Tuesday morning and was given a $500 bond on the suspended license charge.

Simmons’s family is not commenting on the incident. Several of her family members waited anxiously outside the Broward Detention Center and were disappointed when she was not released Tuesday evening.

Investigators are waiting on autopsy report which will determine if there was foul play involved in Antwan Hope’s death. If the medical examiner’s report indicates obvious signs of trauma, the police would immediately launch a homicide investigation and obtain a search warrant for Simmons’ apartment.

The boy’s father said he is angry with the child’s mother.

“I cried in the car all the way down. Not my child,” Antwan Hope told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana about the moment he learned his son was dead. “I loved that boy.”

Just days after watching his son walk across the stage at his pre-school graduation, Hope is now worrying about funeral arrangements.

“I’m angry with his mom,” Hope explained. “We should have took every option there was to do what we had to do as parents.”

Hope said he did not have custody of his son, but that he visited and spoke with him often.


He said Simmons had a history with the Department of Children and Families stemming from an incident a year ago in which Hope said Simmons took the child to a motel and tried to smother him with a pillow.

“DCF, Child Protective Services came and took my son. My son from his momma,” Hope said. “I would have never thought this girl would have been like this towards him.”

Relatives have said Simmons had some sort of a breakdown. She is not charged in her son’s death but was arrested on an unrelated charge.

Hope said little Antwan was with his mother during an unsupervised visit when he died.

The boy’s relatives now wants answers from DCF.

“Why would you give a child back to someone who is harming a kid,” the child’s aunt Deborah Jackson told Pastrana. “We’re trying to reduce child abuse, not increase it.”

Jackson said she would like to see all DCF cases looked at “with a magnifying glass.”

But Antwan Hope is not so quick to point a finger at the agency.

“I don’t blame nobody else. Nobody else,” he stressed. “Guess what? If she would have protected him, or loved him, they would have never picked him up. He would have never been in DCF hands.”

On Tuesday morning, police tape sealed off the door to Simmons’ apartment which was being guarded by an officer.

Police are calling Hope’s death “suspicious.”

Barbara Brunson, four-year-old Hope’s great aunt from his father’s side, said, “When they think about it, everyone is just crying.”

According to Brunson, family members on the father’s side of the boy have been concerned about Simmons’s mental state ever since an incident that occurred a year ago when they said Simmons tried to harm the four year old.

“As far as her mental state, people don’t pay attention to that until it’s too late,” said Brunson.

According to our parnters at the Miami Herald, Simmons was committed under Florida’s involuntary commitment law, the Baker Act, to a local psychiatric hospital, and Hope was placed in foster care, and then in the home of a maternal aunt.

The Department of Children & Families was eager to return the boy to his mother’s custody. Hope’s guardian-ad-litem objected to returning him to his mother’s care. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer agreed with DCF and allowed Simmons to have unsupervised visits with her son in preparation for full-time custody.

CBS 4 News reached out to DCF for comment. We were told the agency did not have enough information to determine whether the boy’s death was a result of neglect or abuse.

Under Florida law, DCF said it cannot release records during an open police investigation, according to a spokesperson.

Neighbor Jennifer Hill, whose son played with Simmon’s son Antwon Hope, wants answers.

“He’s crying, and it impacts him, like it does a lot of little kids in the neighborhood though. A lot of these kids are very hurt. Their friend is gone and nobody knows why. Nobody is giving us answers,” said Hill.


CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.


Child Protective Services Employee Arrested For Indecent Exposure


York County parents are demanding that a local child protection services worker lose his job, after he was arrested for Indecent Exposure and DWI outside a local middle school.

Derrick Hensley, 44, was arrested and charged Monday afternoon, after police found him in his vehicle in the parking lot of York Intermediate School. Several witnesses told police that Hensley urinated in front of the school, exposing himself.

According to a police report, officers found two cans of Bud Light and a can of Four Loko inside Hensley’s car. The report also stated that Hensley “swayed” back and forth in front of officers.

Hensley has been employed with the Gaston County Department of Social Services (DSS) since 1998 and he’s currently a social worker with Child Protection Services.

“He works with children everyday trying to keep them safe and I can’t believe he’s not fired,” said York parent Kristen Stevens.

WBTV found out that Hensley was arrested in July 2012 for DWI. County records show he was not suspended, and even received a pay raise five days after he was arrested.

Keith Moon, the director of Gaston County DSS says he cannot specifically comment on personnel matters involving his employees.

“Personnel issues are confidential under law in North Carolina, so I cannot comment in any specific case,” Moon said, adding that his office will review the facts and give Hensley due process.

“If he did something like that, he doesn’t need to be around kids,”  parent John McClure said.

As of Wednesday evening, Hensley was still in jail.


DCF Worker Fired As Investigation Into Infant’s Death Continues

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The social worker assigned to investigate Catalina Bruno, the woman accused of killing her son after leaving him in the car, has been fired.


Catalina Bruno was being investigated by the Department of Children and Families after a crash last November which left her, with her infant son Bryan Osceola on her lap, passed out at the steering wheel. Bruno was charged with a DUI.

After the DUI, Shani Smith of DCF visited Bruno’s home and reported that the safety of the children did not appear threatened and that her drinking was not an issue.

On May 16th, investigators were called out to Bruno’s home at 1071 SW 150th place in West Miami-Dade to investigate the death of her son.

According to Miami-Dade County Police, Bruno put the baby in a car seat and drove home. Upon arriving home, she got out of the car, and left the infant inside the vehicle.

Police said Bruno was inside the house for “an undetermined amount of time,” but that the father, Amos Osceola, would later ask where the child was. At that point, Bruno said she had not taken the infant out of the car.

Bryan’s body temperature was approximately 109F and was later pronounced dead.

Bruno was charged with aggravated man slaughter on a child under 18 and currently remains in jail without bond.

In court, her lawyers asked for a mental evaluation of their client stating that she suffers from postpartum depression and has been off medication for some time because of financial issues.

On Thursday, DCF admitted that Smith, the case worker, falsified documents and lied about ordering an outside evaluation.

“Our review of the case, we found the assessment was not there. In fact, we found it was never done,” said DCF secretary David Wilkins.

Secretary David Wilkins


Wilkins fired Smith and has referred the case to prosecutors to see if criminal charges are warranted.

As told by Wilkins, if Smith had done her job correctly, it’s possible that the little boy would still be alive.

Bruno’s attorneys, after hearing about DCF and the caseworker’s neglect, are reviewing how this admission will impact her case.

In addition to being fired, Smith’s more than 100 cases she was previously involved in, since joining DCF in 2011, are being reviewed.

Smith’s supervisor has been taken off the job as DCF investigates his role in the Bruno case.


Florida Caseworker Didn’t Check On Children, Arrested For Falsifying Records

Sashelle Alamo-Rios charged with 11 counts of falsifying records.

May 2, 2013|By Jerriann Sullivan and, Orlando Sentinel

A child-welfare caseworker was arrested Wednesday, charged with not visiting children for scheduled appointments and falsifying records to cover it up, court documents show.

Sashelle Alamo-Rios, 27, was working as a case manager for the Children’s Home Society of Florida, which has a contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide services to foster children, a CHSF spokesperson said.


Alamo-Rios is facing 11 counts of falsifying records between Jan. 20 and March 22 of 2012 after a foster caregiver told the chief investigator for DCF that she did not see Alamo-Rios on several scheduled appointments, court records show.

The foster mom “recorded DCF’s visitations on a calendar and Alamo-Rios did not keep the face-to-face meetings,” despite turning in records for travel reimbursements, according to investigate documents filed by the Orange-Osceola Ninth Circuit State Attorney’s Office.



An initial tip was reported to CHSF in March 2012. Officials from that agency contacted DCF’s Office of Inspector General with the tip and the investigation ensued.

“We take our responsibility for keeping kids safe seriously,” CHSF Central Florida Executive Director Tara

Director Tara Hormell

Hormell said. “We have a zero tolerance policy on falsification.”

Alamo-Rios worked for CHSF for 22 months with children who are victims of abuse and neglect before being put on suspension, Hormell said.



She was put on suspension when the investigation started, but quit before CHSF could fire her, according to Hormell.

According to court documents, investigators determined that “none of the children were placed at risk or harmed.”

CHSF has 89 locations throughout the state and helps about 90,000 children annually, Hormell said.


“Power Tends To Corrupt, And Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” Lord Acton

California Statesman: A We Are 1776 Column

By Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks, California)

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”- Lord Acton

There are few cases that show the truth in this proverb as clearly as when Child Protective Services (CPS) tears a baby from his loving mother’s arms without a warrant and refuses to explain why. That is w

hat happened to one Sacramento couple late last month.

It all started with Anna & Alex Nikolayev’s 5 month-old son, Sammy, who was born with a serious heart condition.


After a nurse at one hospital tried to give young Sammy medicine that a doctor later explained should not have been administered, Anna became nervous about the quality of Sammy’s care. She expressed her desire to receive a second opinion from another doctor. When the ER refused to discharge Sammy, Anna left with her child and immediately took him to another hospital. Subsequently, the CPS was alerted.

At the second location, she was able to have him evaluated and discharged. A doctor-signed note was presented to the authorities explaining that Sammy was in very capable hands. At that point, the CPS’ involvement should have ended. It did not.

In what would be a nightmare for any loving parent, the CPS showed up the next day with four police officers to take Sammy. Thanks to Anna’s quick thinking, there is a home video* of this abusive government action.


When asked to explain their actions, CPS stated that they did not have to.

The idea that in 2013 we have a government agency operating in complete secrecy and tearing families apart is unacceptable. That is why I have requested an audit to determine how widespread these abuses are, what can be done, and what recourse exists for innocent parents.

We have a duty to uphold the rights granted us by our Creator and guaranteed in the Constitution. We should not live in fear of a government agency knocking on our door and taking away the most precious thing we have – our children.

If you have a story about CPS that you believe will shed light on an abusive practice or will be compelling before the committee when they hear the audit request, please send a brief description to

We Are 1776 needs your help to make its work possible. If you would like to help us to continue our pro-freedom policy work, please consider donating here:


Foster Care Traumas To U.S. Senate Committee

Cleveland Native Antwone Fisher Describes Foster Care Traumas To U.S. Senate Committee


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The childhood suffering that Glenville native Antwone Fisher endured under Ohio’s foster care system has already been the subject of a book and Hollywood film. On Tuesday, it was the subject of a U.S. Senate hearing on ways to reform the child welfare system.

Fisher’s father was murdered before he was born and his mother was in prison at the time of his birth. He spent 12 years living with a foster family who abused him physically, sexually and verbally before he was sent to a reform school in Western Pennsylvania.

“I don’t think that a child should have to spend his entire childhood in foster care just because the birth parents can’t get themselves together,” Fisher, 53, told the committee. “Children should be offered the opportunity to be adopted early in life no matter how ashamed or horrified the birth parents might feel.”

A few months before he turned 18, a social worker deposited Fisher outside a homeless shelter in downtown Cleveland with $60 in his pocket and no job prospects, telling him he was “emancipated.” That situation exposed Fisher to ruthless predators who tried to recruit him for criminal enterprises. He said making rules for himself, such as avoiding drugs and not staying out late, kept him out of trouble while living on the streets.

“I feel that the reason a great number of former foster children eventually land in prisons is because the children are not (told) that they will have to plan for their adult lives ahead of time or told how to avoid unscrupulous situations,”  Fisher said.

After several months of homelessness, Fisher joined the U.S. Navy, which helped him turn his life around. He later worked as a movie studio security guard in Los Angeles, where he met a producer who decided to make a film about his life. His autobiography, Finding Fish, was published in 2001, and the movie Antwone Fisher came out the next year. He now works as an author, movie director and film producer.

Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he sought the views of Fisher and other witnesses because the committee is examining whether to extend grant programs that reward states for increasing adoption rates and that help children in foster care reconnect with their own families.


“Foster care should be our last resort, not our first resort,” former Franklin County Children’s Services Director Eric Fenner told the committee. Fenner now serves as Managing Director of Casey Family Programs in Westerville, Ohio.

Other witnesses described how easy it has become to find the relatives of endangered children, and urged that such searches become standard practice. Kevin Campbell, who heads the Center for Finding Family and Youth Connectedness in Lakewood, Washington, said it took him 10 minutes to find 62 of Fisher’s relatives before Tuesday’s hearing.


There is an undermining of trust between government and citizens when the government has custody of a child and relatives are not notified,” Campbell said.

Fisher used a Cleveland phone book to track down family members after he left the Navy. He found that an uncle had lived two streets away from him when he was growing up in Glenville and he that attended elementary school with his cousins without knowing they were related. He said he didn’t try to find relatives sooner because several of his foster siblings were rejected by their birth families.

Fisher told U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Avon, that he probably would have ended up living with an aunt in Chicago if social service agencies had tried to track down his relatives instead of putting him in foster care.

“I have really come to a place of forgiveness for everything, even my foster parents,” Fisher said. “I just think the best way to go is to have the life, whatever life I have left, to make the best life that I can. And you really have to forgive.”


Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch congratulated Fisher on making so much of his life despite his early setbacks, and jokingly urged him to change the “wicked ways” of the film industry.

“Keep doing the great work you’re doing,” said Hatch.