crimesider

Father Trading Baby...for a Couple of Brews? Cops Say Mass. Man Hits "New Low"

Matthew Brace (Chicopee Police/WBZ)

CHICOPEE, Mass. (CBS/AP) It's a new low according to the police chief in Chicopee, Mass. -- a father tried to trade his 3-month old daughter for a couple of bottles of beer, or possibly some crack cocaine.

Police say 24-year-old Matthew Brace and his girlfriend were at a gas station and convenience store Monday, when a maintenance worker asked them how old their baby is. Brace apparently saw this as an "opportunity," and, according to Masslive.com, put the stroller and the 3-month-old in the worker's vehicle.

Then, says Chicopee Police Chief John Ferraro Jr., Brace told the man, "For two 40s, you can have her."

Police thought Brace was offering to swap the child for a couple of 40-ounce beers, but the Chicopee chief says "40" is slang for both beer and crack cocaine, and investigators aren't sure which substance Brace had in mind.

Either way, he was not amused.

"It's not a joke; this is very serious," Ferraro told Masslive.com, noting that he is in his fourth decade of law enforcement. "I have seen a lot of atrocities, I have worked a lot of murders, but trying to trade a baby for alcohol (or drugs) is a new low."

The worker rejected Brace's offer, and instead notified police who were able to track down the couple at a nearby Econo Lodge. The 3-month-old was placed in the custody of state child welfare officials.

Brace was sent to the Baystate Medical Center for evaluation to determine if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He faces a charge of reckless endangerment of a child.

Police are investigating his girlfriend's involvement. No charges have been filed against her.