Schenectady County

Judge sentences Schenectady woman in child neglect case, calls system ‘frustrating’

A Schenectady County Court judge this morning sentenced a woman who had been accused of failing to p

A Schenectady County Court judge this morning sentenced a woman who had been accused of failing to provide her infant child proper nourishment and care to time served.

The judge sentenced the woman while calling out a “system” that arrested her, but did not arrest the child’s father, who had equal custodial rights to the child.

Judge Karen Drago provided a list of information that “the system” knew about Lucecita Alvarado — including mental health issues, that her husband left her a month after giving birth, and that he had equal legal claim to the child, but still chose to put full criminal blame on her.

The situation was further compounded, Alvarado’s attorney Steve Signore interrupted, in that there were “certain issues” with the services she received from the Department of Social Services.

In a case that remains pending, Alvarado’s case worker, Milagros Noriega, faces charges, accused of falsifying visits to Alvarado and her infant child, Kevin. Noriega was immediately placed on leave after questions were raised and later forced to resign.

Drago appeared to avoid direct reference to the allegations against Noriega, because the case remained pending.

But the inequities the judge saw between treatment of Alvarado and the child’s father were evident in Drago’s sentencing comments.

Drago noted that the child’s father, identified previously as Luis Ortiz, was prosecuted, but in family court, not criminal court. He pleaded guilty to neglect, Drago said, yet Alvarado was arrested on a high-level felony and kept in jail for nearly eight months.

“I’m so frustrated by our system at times,” Drago said in sentencing Alvarado.

“It is most troubling to this court,” Drago added a short time later, “that our system is still beset by such archaic thinking that it appears to be only the mother’s responsibility to render medical services for the child.”

Alvarado, 39, of Stanley Street, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court in February to one count of first-degree reckless endangerment.

Alvarado admitted then 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 June 18, 2010.

The child was rushed to the hospital, severely malnourished, suffering from dehydration and heart failure, authorities have said. The child has since recovered.

Caring for the child, and Alvarado’s other children while she was incarcerated, was Ortiz, officials have said. Alvarado was released in February. Alvarado currently can be alone with the child during the day, but Ortiz must be there in the evening.

For more on the story, see Wednesday’s print editions of The Daily Gazette.

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