MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Shani Smith, the DCF worker facing termination for allegedly falsifying documents after investigating a woman who has been charged with killing her son after leaving him in the car, is denying the accusations against her.
Smith, a social worker with the Department of Children and Families, was assigned to investigate Catalina Bruno after a crash last November which left her, with her infant son Bryan Osceola on her lap, passed out at the steering wheel. Bruno was charged with a DUI.
After the DUI, Smith visited Bruno’s home and reported that the safety of the children did not appear threatened and that her drinking was not an issue.
On May 16th, investigators were called out to Bruno’s home to investigate the death of her almost one-year-old son, Bryan Osceola, who Bruno left in the car for an undetermined amount of time.
Bryan’s body temperature was approximately 109F and was later pronounced dead.
On May 23rd, DCF admitted that Smith falsified documents and lied about ordering an outside evaluation. DCF secretary David Wilkins fired Smith and referred the case to prosecutors to see if criminal charges were warranted.
On Tuesday, in an interview with CBS4’s Brian Andrews, Smith denied the allegations and said she is being made a “scapegoat.”
“DCF is trying to take the heat off of themselves as an organization,” Smith said. “I completed my investigation to the best of my ability. I followed protocol.”
According to Smith, she did order the evaluation and the outside firm found there was no evidence of a problem.
“If I don’t have anything that shows some type of pattern, my hands are tied,” Smith said.
Smith maintains that she ordered the evaluation and submitted all the paperwork, noting that DCF lost the paperwork.
She said the files had been closed since January of this year.
“I submitted my case. It was approved by 2 different supervisors.”
Smith said she’s not interested in getting her job back, but she does want her name cleared.
In response to DCF referring Smith’s case to prosecutors to see if criminal charges are warranted, Smith said, “I’m not a criminal. I did nothing wrong.”