Fired DCF investigator arrested for falsifying records

Shani Smith arrested on 6 counts of official misconduct

MIAMI – A Department of Children and Families case worker fired for falsifying records relating to the 2013 death of an 11-month-old boy left in his mother's car has been arrested.

Shani Smith, 35, was charged with six counts of official misconduct after an investigation found that she had falsified records in the case of Catalina Bruno.

Bruno was arrested on May 17, 2013, the day after she had left her baby boy, Brian Osceola, in the back seat of a hot car outside the family's west Miami-Dade County home. Bruno was drunk at the time and was driving with a suspended license.

After spending a year in jail, Bruno agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to time served.

Despite her denials, DCF officials fired Smith, saying she had falsified reports about referring Bruno for alcohol assessment.

An investigation also found that Smith had never received the required state certification to work as a child protective investigator.

Rather than appeal her firing, Smith tendered her resignation, accusing the DCF of making her a scapegoat over Osceola's death. Smith's lawyer continued that defense Wednesday.

"We are prepared to fight this all the way," said attorney David Kubiliun. "She is being used as a scapegoat for all the workings of the department in the past."

Smith turned herself into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement office Wednesday in Miami. Her bond is set at $60,000.

Smith's attorney said she is scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday morning. Her attorney said they will be asking for a reduction in bond.

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