OAN’s Abril Elfi
5:48 PM – Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Recent court documents show that the woman who ran a daycare facility where a 1-year-old died of an opiate overdose had deleted more than 21,000 encrypted texts to her husband after the fatal incident.
On Tuesday, Grei Mendez, 33, the daycare owner, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, who rented a room inside the Kingsbridge apartment where the daycare was operated, were charged with two federal crimes.
Mendez and Brito are also charged with “conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death” and “possession with intent to distribute narcotics leading to death.”
The new charges come during a time when more information is surfacing regarding what transpired after the infant, Nicholas Dominici, was discovered unresponsive.
According to the federal complaint, Mendez exchanged around 21,500 texts with a drug co-conspirator, whom law enforcement has identified as her husband.
All of their texts had been deleted after the infant died.
During her interrogation, authorities discovered that Mendez informed her husband that they were questioning her about him and where he was, to which he ordered her to tell them that he was working. She then advised him to hire a lawyer.
According to authorities, approximately one kilogram of fentanyl, which was confiscated within a taped box containing several thousand dollars worth of the lethal drug, was discovered in a closet next to stacked mats where the children would take naps.
Mendez has claimed that she had no idea that the highly potent narcotic, which also harmed three other young children, was present. One of the victims included an 8-month-old infant who tested positive for fentanyl use.
Police also reportedly stated that, along with fentanyl, two press devices used to combine the drug with other narcotics were found with one of the devices being connected to Brito’s apartment.
According to prosecution documents, Mendez informed police that she cleaned the Divino Niño Daycare six days a week and that the kilo press found at the site “could have been placed there by a previous tenant.”
The daycare owner also claimed there were no other visitors at their daycare on Friday, the day of the incident, despite the fact that her husband was spotted taking suitcases out of the establishment just minutes before first responders arrived, as well as earlier in the day.
Prosecutors said Mendez also made three phone conversations before phoning 9-1-1, one to another daycare employee, and two to her husband, while they “tried to cover up” what transpired.
According to court filings, Mendez allegedly made many additional phone calls to her husband after police were summoned. Her husband arrived at the apartment, lingered for approximately two minutes, then fled down a back alleyway carrying two full shopping bags while the children were unresponsive and awaiting medical attention.
United States Attorney Damian Williams spoke on the matter and called the actions of the pair “unconscionable” and “inexcusable.”
“Parents entrusted Grei Mendez with the care of their children. As alleged, instead of diligently safeguarding the well-being of those children, she and her co-conspirators put them directly in harm’s way, running a narcotics operation and storing deadly fentanyl out of the very space in which the children ate, slept, and played,” said Williams. “The disregard shown by Mendez and her co-conspirators for the lives of the children under her care is simply staggering.”
If found guilty on the federal charges, both Mendez and Brito could face life in prison, and a minimum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
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