DA: County Attorney Declined 3 Requests to Remove Children From Home Before Toddler’s Fentanyl Death

Michael McGuire had previously been removed as a family court judge for abuse of power and misconduct.

The parents and grandmother of a New York toddler have been charged along with an alleged drug dealer with the 16-month-old girl’s fentanyl death earlier this month, but the case has raised alarming concerns over Sullivan County’s handling of child welfare cases.

Police in Liberty say Jacob McCoy sold Akaasha Luvert’s parents, Lisa Keitt and Jimmie Luvert, the drugs, while Keitt’s mother, Lisa Ferdico-Vizard, smoked crack cocaine in the hotel room where the girl died on May 2 after getting into the drug when her parents passed out, News12 reported.

McCoy faces multiple drug charges. Keitt and Luvert were indicted on manslaughter charges, and Ferdico-Vizard was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

The little girl’s baby brother was also present in the hotel room and was also injured by exposure to the drug but is recovering.

The case has brought sharp attention to Sullivan County Child Protection Services, which had been supervising both children since birth. Acting District Attorney Brian Conaty said that caseworkers had requested that the children be removed from the parents on three separate occasions but that Sullivan County Attorney Michael McGuire denied all three requests.

McGuire, a former family court judge, was removed from the bench in 2020 when the state Commission on Judicial Conduct found that he abused his power and engaged in official misconduct, according to News12. He was promptly appointed county attorney.

The district attorney said that McGuire has been regularly discourage child welfare caseworkers from requesting that children be removed from their homes and he is asking that McGuire no longer be the arbiter of those issues.

The county legislative body that appointed McGuire did not respond to a request for comment, and McGuire had no comment.

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[Featured image: Michael McGuire/Sullivan County government]