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DCF Worker Resigns After Child Dies In Hot Car

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A DCF worker accused of allegedly falsifying documents after investigating a woman who has been charged with the death of her son after leaving him in the car resigned her position Thursday.

Shani Smith was facing termination from her position, but decided to resign before the state agency could fire her. Smith has repeatedly said she did her job correctly after investigating Catalina Bruno after a crash last November which left her, with her infant son Bryan Osceola on her lap, passed out at the steering wheel. Bruno was charged with a DUI.

After the DUI, Smith visited Bruno's home and reported that the safety of the children did not appear threatened and that her drinking was not an issue.

On May 16th, investigators were called out to Bruno's home to investigate the death of her almost one-year-old son, Bryan Osceola, who Bruno left in the car for an undetermined amount of time. Bryan's body temperature was approximately 109 degrees and was later pronounced dead.

On May 23rd, DCF admitted that Smith falsified documents and lied about ordering an outside evaluation. DCF secretary David Wilkins fired Smith and referred the case to prosecutors to see if criminal charges were warranted.

After resigning her position Thursday, Smith reiterated that she did nothing wrong.

"I have no regrets," Smith said. "The only thing that I regret is that this baby died. That's the regret that I have. But I did nothing wrong."

According to Smith, she did order the evaluation and the outside firm found there was no evidence of a problem. Smith maintains that she ordered the evaluation and submitted all the paperwork, noting that DCF lost the paperwork. She said the files had been closed since January of this year.

Smith and her attorney claim she has taken a polygraph test from an unnamed source that shows that everything she has claimed is the truth.

However, Bruce Hayden, the CEO of Spectrum Programs Inc., a private nonprofit mental health program that evaluates clients for DCF, told CBS4's Gary Nelson that they never saw Catalina Bruno.

Hayen said they absolutely would have records of any evaluation or treatment they provided to Bruno, and no such records exists.

"It did not happen," Hayden said.

Bryan Osecola, the baby at the center of the case, would have turned one-year-old on Friday.


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