MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Miami-Dade Schools’ police officers crowded a Miami courtroom by the dozens Wednesday morning to talk about the way their department handled the case of a mother accused of parental abduction.
The school officers were subpoenaed after the attorney for Carrie Weingarth, the mother of the children, claimed school police exaggerated the claims against her so they could fly across the county and make more money on over-time investigating this case.
Weingarth’s attorneys said two police officers told them that the department knew the three boys were not in danger and were never abducted. They said these officers told them the highly publicized search for the kids was done so the officers could bill $10,000 in overtime.
No officer appeared in court last week to testify to the allegations but Wednesday’s hearing was full of finger-pointing by cops and accusations of wrong-doing.
Officer Daniel Rivera said the mother should have never been charged.
“I found that Ms. Weingarth had custody of the kids,” said Officer Rivera.
Weingarth allegedly took her oldest son Erin out of school without permission, even though she does not have custody of him and along with his brothers went to California with her boyfriend. There was a large cross country search for the kids and a joyful reunion at the airport but Weingarth’s attorneys allege the investigation was a show.
The cross-country search also cost thousands of dollars. It’s tax-payer money Officer Rivera said shouldn’t have been spent.
“There was no reason for the dragnet. There was no reason to do whatever they did,” said Officer Rivera.
Other detectives in court said they were just following orders.
The judge acknowledged the Miami Schools Police Department’s actions were questionable and reduced Weingarth’s bail from $100,000 to $50,000. She has to remain under monitoring and stay away from her son, Erin.
Miami-Dade Schools’ Chief of Police released a statement on the issue saying, ” If the outcome of the case indicates that there was any wrongdoing by our officers, we will conduct an official investigation and proceed accordingly.”
The state has offered Weingarth two years in prison for taking the kids. Her lawyers scoffed at the offer.