A 5-year-old boy is dead after an Ohio social worker allegedly turned a blind eye to horrific conditions in exchange for thousands of dollars in food stamps, officials said.
What's the story?
Prosecutors charged Nancy Carabello, a social worker employed by Catholic Charities, on several counts Wednesday after they learned that she reportedly accepted bribes to "look the other way" during visits to the boy's home.
A tip led police to discover the body of Jordan Rodriguez buried behind the family's Cleveland home Dec. 19, WLKY-TV reported.
The boy's mother, Larissa Rodriguez, and her boyfriend, Christopher Rodriguez, are charged with the boy's murder. The mother told police that she and her boyfriend buried the boy in their backyard after they found him unresponsive.
His small body showed multiple signs of abuse, including broken ribs, police said.
What about the social worker?
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said Wednesday during a news conference that Carabello would report to the home for visits, but didn't go inside. Instead, O'Malley said, she purchased food stamp cards from the boy's mother, Larissa Rodriguez, for 50 cents on the dollar.
"This food stamp transaction is a bribe," O'Malley said. "[Caraballo] was being bribed to look the other way.
In 2014, Caraballo was assigned to visit the Rodriguez home once a month. The fraud allegedly started in July 2015 and continued through December 2017.
"It's just a disgusting a situation," O'Malley said.
Carabello had a mandatory requirement to report abuse or neglect and that the boy might still be alive had she done her job, the prosecutor said.
Were there other children in the home?
Larissa Rodriguez has eight other children.
Five of them, ages 1 to 12, were found living in the rat- and cockroach-infested home at the time of the discovery.
Authorities said one child was seen eating a sandwich with cockroaches in it.
A Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services spokesperson told WEWS-TV that Larissa Rodriguez had a history with the organization. The spokesperson said that she had two children removed from her care years ago, but the case was sealed, and no further details were released.
Her oldest child is 19.
Authorities removed the children from the home following the mother's arrest in December. Two of the children are reportedly now living with their fathers.
What did Catholic Charities say about this?
Today, a former employee of Catholic Charities was indicted on charges alleging food stamp trafficking. Upon learning of allegations of misconduct Catholic Charities responded swiftly and terminated her employment.
Catholic Charities was contracted by Bright Beginnings to provide home visitation services that includes visits up to twice per month, averaging 60 minutes each. Catholic Charities maintains strict standards and provides extensive training on ethics and appropriate boundaries with clients. We are shocked and disappointed that this former employee violated our policies and failed to adhere to the standards required of all employees at Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities remains dedicated to its core values and will continue its mission of serving the most vulnerable throughout Northeast Ohio and furthering the healing work of Jesus.
What are the charges?
Police charged Larissa Rodriguez and Caraballo with illegal use of food stamps, grand theft telecommunications fraud, money laundering, and bribery.
Authorities also charged Carabello with 12 counts of tampering with government records.
O'Malley said the cause of death is not yet known, and investigators aren't clear whether Caraballo knew of the boy's disappearance or death, but prosecutors would consider additional charges against the social worker if the autopsy determines that malnourishment played a role in Jordan's death.