Nanny busted for ‘doping up’ infant >> Daily Post (LI)
By KIERAN CROWLEY, SELIM ALGAR, and JENNIFER FERMINO
Last Updated: 4:06 AM, February 15, 2011
Posted: 12:51 AM, February 15, 2011
A Long Island nanny was arrested after she ignored age warning labels on a popular allergy medicine and repeatedly dosed a 4-month-old to “calm” the infant, police said yesterday.
Anneliese Brucato, 48, was caught in the act by the girl’s mother, who had remotely logged into one of four nanny cams installed in her home in tony Laurel Hill, police said.
“It was very upsetting,” the mother, Cynthia Schafer, 33, told The Post. “I checked all her references. There were no problems. She had no criminal history or anything.”
The single mom said she had become anxious about her daughter’s health after coming home from work and finding her restless. She took her to a doctor, who said the child was sleeping too much during the day.
Unbeknownst to her, the longtime nanny had been, according to police, slipping the infant a generic version of Benadryl — Rite-Aid-brand children’s antihistamine drops in bubble-gum flavor — the label of which clearly states it is not to be given to anyone under 4 years old.
In severe cases, it can cause seizures or even death in young children.
Brucato did it “in order to cause the child to become drowsy, to make her more manageable and to perhaps make her job easier,” said Nassau County Detective Lt. Kevin Smith.
Brucato — who has worked for more than a decade taking care of children — pleaded not guilty to assault in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child yesterday in Nassau County District Court.
“This is so out of character [for Brucato]. I truly believe this is just an aberration,” said her lawyer, Cary Kressler.
Schafer told cops that while accessing the nanny-cam feeds on her work laptop, she saw Brucato pull a bottle out of her pocket and give the infant — coincidentally also named Annaliese — five doses of a clear liquid in quick succession on Friday.
When the horrified mom called her on the phone to ask her what she was doing, Brucato insisted she was just “wiping her mouth,” Schafer said in an affidavit. Schafer rushed home.
“I told her to tell me what she put in her pocket or I would call the police. She then said it’s in her jacket pocket. She pulled out a bottle of [antihistamine],” Schafer said in an affidavit.
Schafer fired her on the spot and later called cops. When asked why she gave the baby medicine she didn’t need, Brucato allegedly told cops, “I gave it to her to calm her down.”
Brucato, a divorcée who has no kids of her own, told Schafer that she had never given the child drugs before. But later she told cops she’d done it “a couple of times over the last few weeks,” investigators said. She was caught on the nanny cam giving the child the medicine on three occasions, investigators said.
Brucato knew that Schafer had installed several nanny cams, but she didn’t know their locations.