Emails show fired investigator wasn't certified

Shani Smith fired following death in Catalina Bruno case

Headline Goes Here


A Department of Children and Families investigator who was fired after an 11-month-old boy died was never certified to hold her position.

Internal department emails showed Shani Smith, who handled the case of Catalina Bruno (pictured, right), never received her state certification, which is against state law. She worked as an investigator for two years.

The emailed showed Smith never completed training that included six months of direct, on-the-job experience; completing six field visits with follow-up meetings with supervisors; and, undergoing at least 30 hours of group and individual oversight of her work.

DCF fired Smith after Bruno's son died in February. The department said Smith falsified records.

"I have no regrets," Smith said in May. "What I regret is that this baby died. That's the regret, but I did nothing wrong."

Smith said she referred Bruno for an assessment of alcohol problems, but DCF officials said they had no record of it. Bruno left her son, Bryan Osceola, in a sweltering car, where he died, according to police.

"In this business, sometimes children die, even when you do everything right. You're in a very high-risk area. But these cases could have been prevented," said Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, who chairs the community-based Care Alliance, which oversees DCF. "We know that she (Smith) wasn't doing a good job. We also know that she probably falsified her case records, but even over and above that, she was not doing appropriate investigations."

Smith's attorney, David Kubiliun, wasn't available Wednesday for comment. Smith didn't answer her phone.

DCF issued a statement, saying: "Shani Smith had through June of 2013 to complete her certification. Ms. Smith was six hours away from completing her certification, which would have been completed within the next few weeks."

"What concerns me more than the certification is the lack of accountability, the lack of supervision, and the lack of training," said Cohen.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.