Former DCF Employee Accepts Plea Deal in Falsifying Records Case

A Department of Children and Families employee, charged in connection with the death of a baby left in a hot car, faced a judge Wednesday.

Shani Smith was a case worker making sure kids were kept safe. She accepted a plea deal in criminal court and pleaded guilty on six charges of official misconduct.

The judge gave Smith five years of probation for falsifying documents where a child suffocated to death in a hot car. Before her guilty plea, Smith insisted she was not at fault.

"What I regret is that this baby died, that's the regret that I have. But I did nothing wrong," Smith said.

As a DCF investigator, Smith supervised the case of 11-month-old Bryan Osceola and his mother Catalina Bruno. Before the child's death, Bruno was charged with a DUI when she passed out with her son in the car.

According to detectives, Smith didn't think Bruno posed a danger to her son and lied about referring her to a substance abuse program.

Six months later, the child died when his body temperature reached almost 110 degrees in his mother's car. Bruno later pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.

If Smith violates her probation, she faces 30 years behind bars. If she successfully completes her probation, she won't be a convicted felon but her record will still exist.

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