NEWS: Owner of NYC day care where tot died of opioid OD called husband, two others before 911
The owner of the Bronx day care where a 1-year-old boy died after inhaling fentanyl called two alleged accomplices in the covert drug operation — including her husband — and a third person before finally dialing 911 for help, law enforcement sources told The Post.
The husband of Grei Mendez De Ventura, the 36-year-old proprietor of Divino Niño Daycare, was also spotted on surveillance footage suspiciously carrying out a large bag before first responders arrived at the facility, police sources said.
De Ventura “wasted precious minutes” making the trio of phone calls after little Nicholas Feliz Dominici and three other children were exposed to fentanyl on Friday, one police source said.
“How callous could she be?” asked the incredulous law-enforcement source.
De Ventura phoned her husband — who’s on the lam and is considered the “main player” in the drug mill — her already-arrested cousin-in-law Carlisto Acevedo Brito, and a friend before seeking medical help around 3:30 p.m.
“She wasted precious minutes, worrying about herself and the drug dealers. When she should’ve been most concerned about saving these innocent babies lives,” the police source said.
The three other kids — a pair of 2-year-old boys and one of their 8-month-old sisters — were also hospitalized, with one of the boys in critical condition according to police.
Before emergency responders arrived, Ventura’s husband was seen on surveillance footage showing up to the day care, entering through a back door, staying a few minutes, then leaving with a bag large enough to hold several kilos of illicit drugs, according to sources.
Ventura and her husband then spoke numerous times on the phone after he left, police sources said.
She and Brito, 41, have both been arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, drug possession and child endangerment.
After raiding the day care Friday, cops “discovered a kilogram of fentanyl in an area that was used to give the children naps,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said Monday.
They also found three “kilogram press devices,” which are used to package large amounts of drugs.
Some of the youngsters were administered the opioid overdose drug Narcan. The girl and one of the 2-year-old boys are now in stable condition.
Neighbors said it was an open secret around the neighborhood that the daycare was a drug front, explaining the business opened more than a year ago and adults frequently came and went — but that a child wasn’t to be seen in the place until about two months ago.
“We all said, ‘Drogas.’ How could you not know?” said a longtime resident, 69, who declined to be named.
“It was a day-care for a year with no children. For one year, she had a day-care with no children but people go in. But no babies?”
“A day-care with no children and men coming in and out. Yes, we knew something. We knew something, something was not good happening there,” she said.
Despite such accounts, the daycare managed to pass a surprise inspection from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Sept. 6, according to records.
Divino Niño Daycare is technically under the purview of the state’s Office of Children and Family Services — but inspection duties have been outsourced to the city for years at the price of millions in taxpayer dollars.
On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams said inspectors did everything they were supposed to do during their review, but that Ventura and her cohorts had broken a relationship partly “based on trust.”
“They [inspectors] did their job. Who did not do their job were the people who were there to protect the children,” Adams said. “Everything appeared normal based on the standards we put in place to make sure, surely not in a safe environment.”
“Part of this relationship is based on trust and they broke that trust.”