The owner of a New York day care where a one-year-old boy died of fentanyl exposure now faces federal charges.
Youngster Nicholas Dominici died after he was exposed to the opioid at the Bronx facility on Friday, while three other young children were hospitalised.
Daycare owner Grei Mendez, 36, and tenant Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were arrested on state charges including murder, manslaughter and assault.
Now federal prosecutors say they have also been charged with narcotics possession with intent to distribute resulting in death and conspiracy to distribute narcotics resulting in death, reported ABC News.
A kilo of fentanyl was found in a hallway closet outside Mr Brito’s room, which he rented from Ms Mendez for $200 a week, according to investigators.
Prosecutors told a judge during a Sunday night arraignment hearing that Ms Mendez had taken part in the “reckless depraved act” by renting the room to Mr Brito, her husband’s cousin, reported ABC News.
Her lawyer told the court that his client, who faces a sentence of life imprisonment if convicted, had no idea that drugs were being stored at the daycare.
Police say that drug production equipment was also found inside the daycare. Investigators believe that the children inhaled fentanyl particles during their daylong exposure to the drug before they were found unconscious and the alarm was raised.
Both suspects were deemed flight risks by the judge and are being held without bail.
“I love him, I miss him, I want him back – but there’s nothing that will give me back my son – when I came home from work and walked through the door, he’d say ‘daddy, daddy!’” Nicholas’s father, Otoniel Feliz, told ABC7.
“My wife was on her way to the day care. She was going to pick him up early. Shortly before she arrives, she receives the call and also sees the ambulance.”