The local mother charged with failing to provide her infant child proper nourishment and care, to the point where the child almost died, pleaded guilty to a felony Monday.
Lucecita Alvarado, 39, of Stanley Street, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court to one count of first-degree reckless endangerment and could get a sentence of as little as time served, or about eight months.
The plea came after revelations of allegations against Alvarado’s one-time social services case worker. That case worker is now accused of lying about visiting the family during the time the infant nearly died, authorities have said.
Alvarado admitted in court Monday that she endangered the life of her infant son by failing to provide proper medical care and nourishment.
The child, prosecutors say, barely survived and was essentially skin and bones when other social services officials spotted the child on the mother’s visit to social services last June 18.
The child was rushed to the hospital, severely malnourished, suffering from dehydration and heart failure, authorities have said. The child has since recovered.
Alvarado’s case took on added significance after the Jan. 28 indictment of her social services caseworker, Milagros Noriega.
Noriega faces indictment on a host of charges, accused of falsifying visits to Alvarado and her infant child, Kevin. Noriega was immediately placed on leave and later forced to resign.
Noriega is to return to court this morning to get an attorney. No attorney was listed Monday. She has pleaded not guilty.
Monday’s plea in the Alvarado case was essentially the same deal prosecutors offered previously, with one important change, Alvarado’s criminal attorney Steve Signore said.
In return for her plea, she faces up to a cap of 16 months to 4 years in state prison, meaning the judge can sentence her to that or something less. The previous plea included no room to change the sentence.
Alvarado is to be sentenced April 15.
Also, Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago agreed to have Alvarado released pending sentencing. Alvarado had been in custody for nearly eight months, since her June arrest.
Signore said in agreeing to release Alvarado Monday, Drago noted that she could go back in if her sentence warrants it in April.
But Signore said he will be advocating for a time-served sentence.
Signore said the disposition is a good one for his client. He also praised Drago for the care she took with the case.
“It was a balance between [Alvarado] taking some responsibility for this, but also trying to realize that there are a lot of mitigating factors,” Signore said. Signore said he also argued that, while his client had some culpability, there was also now a causal connection to what her caseworker did or didn’t do.
“Had the case worker been doing what they were supposed to do, would this have been more likely a straight neglect case, versus the criminal aspect?” Signore said. “Would there have been a criminal component?”
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, who was present in court for some of the morning’s proceedings, said his office consented to the plea after understanding the judge’s position. Drago had asked questions about the culpability of the father and whether prosecuting the mother was unfair.
“Sentencing is a judicial function, primarily,” Carney said. “I don’t think this is a clear-cut case when it comes to what’s the appropriate sentence.”
Carney also noted that the baby was in bad shape when it arrived at the hospital that day. He described the baby as nearly skin and bones. The baby also had to be resuscitated.
“The baby was as close to death as you can get,” Carney said. “It has to be emphasized that the prosecution theory here was that the mother was told by physicians what to do and she didn’t do it.”
“The mother just didn’t follow the advice she was given,” Carney added later, “to the point where it seemed clear that she was indifferent to the fate of the child.”