No Jail Time in Day Care Choking Death of Two Year Old - NBC New York

No Jail Time in Day Care Choking Death of Two Year Old



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    Olivia Rose Raspanti was died on March 17, 2009, after choking on a carrot at an unlicensed day care center.

    Anthony Raspanti Sr.'s face never betrayed anger or frustration; but his words were clear.

    "I think someone should have gone to jail," said Raspanti, whose two year granddaughter, Olivia, choked to death at an unlicensed Hicksville day care center in 2009.

    But no one will serve any jail time for Raspanti's tragic death.

    Nassau County Judge James McCormack honored a plea deal Monday, sentencing Eugene Formica, 65, owner of the Carousel Day Care Center, to only three years probation.

    The center's former assistant director, Kathryn Cordaro, 53, was sentenced to an unconditional discharge.

    Both had pleaded guilty to criminal charges after Raspanti took a carrot from a teacher's bag and choked to death.

    The Carousel day care, which opened in 1956, did not have a proper license to operate a center for toddlers at the time of Raspanti's death, said the Nassau County District Attorney's office.

    "This was an accident waiting to happen and it just happened to us," said Raspanti, Sr. after the sentencing.  He called Olivia "My Princess," holding up a photo he said he has carried since her death.

    Olivia's parents did not speak to reporters outside court; but, their lawyer read a statement to the judge saying they could live with no jail time -- unlike the the grandfather. The Raspanti's made it clear, however, they did not believe their daughter's death was an accident.

    "Accidents occur when mistakes or errors are made not when conscious decisions have been made to ignore the law," read the Raspanti statement.

    "No one ever believed this case should involve jail time," countered Carousel's lawyer Marc Gann.

    "They have suffered with this loss every day.  A child died on their watch and this is a place where they expect children to laugh, not to cry."

    Judge McCormack rebuked Carousel in court for operating without a license, calling it an "accident waiting to happen."

    The Raspantis are suing Carousel for civil damages. 

    Anthony Raspanti, Sr. expressed the hope that Olivia's death would raise awareness about unlicensed day care facilities.

    "Parents should be aware of where they put their children," he said.

    The case has led many day care facilities to seek licenses and certification, claimed Nassau county prosecutors -- but the state Office of Children and Family Services, which issues those licenses, said applications are down this year.

    Citizens with concerns that a day care center is unlicensed call call the OCFS hotline at  1-800-732-5207  or 1-212-676-2444 in NYC.