The owner of the New York City day care center where a one-year-old boy died following possible exposure to fentanyl was charged with murder Saturday night.
Police said the day care center owner’s neighbor was also charged in connection with the child’s death, according to the New York Post.
Divino Nino owner Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, and neighbor Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were arrested on Saturday on 11 charges, including depraved-indifference murder, assault and child endangerment after one child died and three others were hospitalized for exposure to what may have been fentanyl the day before.
The suspects are each also charged with manslaughter of a person under eleven-years-old, manslaughter recklessly causing death, four counts of assault causing injury through risk of death, four counts of assault causing injury during a felony, four counts of assault causing serious injury, four counts of reckless assault causing serious injury, three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of narcotics and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Officers took the two into custody after searching the building and discovering nearly a kilo of fentanyl and multiple kilo presses, a device used to combine fentanyl with other drugs, sources told the New York Post.
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Records show that the day care passed a surprise annual inspection on September 6.
The one-year-old boy, Nicholas Dominici, died on Friday and three other children — two two-year-old boys and an eight-month-old girl — were found unresponsive in the basement of the day care after possibly inhaling the drug.
The medical examiner’s office says Nicholas’ exact cause of death is still pending, WCBS reported.
Two of the victims were in cardiac arrest when first responders arrived at the scene. The overdose-reversing drug Narcan was used on the toddlers, according to officials. Nicholas was rushed to Montefiore hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police said Saturday night that one of the two-year-old boys remains in critical condition while the eight-month-old girl is listed in stable condition.
The other two-year-old boy was picked up from the day care center just before 1 p.m. Friday but also appeared to have been exposed to fentanyl. He was transported to BronxCare Health System and is in stable condition.
Nicholas’ father Otoniel Feliz told reporters he initially believed his son was sick from carbon monoxide poisoning.
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“It was a peaceful place, it seemed like they would take good care [of the kids]. They always keep in contact with us. Everything seemed fine,” he said. “We expected that we were taking our son to a place where he would be taken care of, not to the funeral home.”
The incident remains under investigation.