Bronx day care owner, tenant plead not guilty to NY charges after child’s fentanyl death

NEW YORK (WABC) — The operator of a Bronx day care, her husband and his cousin were all indicted Thursday on charges of murder with depraved indifference to human life in connection with the death of 22-month-old Nicholas Dominici, who the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined died of fentanyl exposure.

The day care was a front for drug trafficking, prosecutors said.

“This is a catastrophe, our sorrow is matched only by the outrage because these babies were used as shields to protect a narcotics operation,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said.

Grei Mendez, 36, Felix Herrera Garcia, 34, and Carlisto Brito, 41, were charged with second-degree murder, criminal possession of a controlled substance, manslaughter, assault and child endangerment.

Mendez and Brito pleaded not guilty and Nicholas’ mother wailed aloud when Mendez appeared. Garcia was awaiting arraignment later Thursday.

On September 15, 2023, inside the Morris Ave. day care, four children were poisoned by exposure to fentanyl. First responders used Narcan to revive the other three children but could not save Nicholas, who was 22 months old.

“I understand that justice will be done,” Nicholas’ father Otoniel Feliz said. “It will not bring my son back.”

Feliz’s hand shook as he showed a photograph of his son and his voice broke.

“We trusted this day care because everything was going OK,” Feliz said. “Every single day the lady in charge sent text messages to my wife. We trusted her because she kept us updated. We never imagined this was going to happen.”

A kilo of fentanyl was found in the closet of the day care. Six kilos of fentanyl-heroin and other controlled substances were found beneath a trap door concealed by a padded mat where the children napped, prosecutors said.

“This case is the bleakest reminder that we must be relentless in removing drug traffickers from our community,” the district attorney said, adding her office would be taking aim at day care centers run out of private homes.

“We will get justice for them,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. “But what we have to do is make sure this never, ever happens again to any other child.”

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Mendez removed her own toddler from the day care out of fear he would succumb to fentanyl exposure but never alerted authorities to hear concerns.

(ABC News contributed to this report.)

ALSO READ | Dad describes devastating loss after 1-year-old son killed by fentanyl exposure at Bronx day care


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