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Fired DCF investigator granted pre-trial release

Shani Smith accused of falsifying records before death of toddler

MIAMI – A Miami-Dade County judge has granted a pre-trial release of a Department of Children and Families case worker who was arrested on Wednesday and ordered to be held on $60,000 bond.

Shani Smith, 35, was fired by the DCF for allegedly falsifying records relating to the 2013 death of an 11-month-old boy who was left in his mother's hot car.

Smith is charged with six counts of official misconduct.

The toddler's mother, Catalina Bruno, was arrested on May 17, 2013, the day after she had left her baby boy, Brian Osceola, in the back seat of a hot car outside the family's west Miami-Dade County home. Bruno was drunk at the time and was driving with a suspended license.

After spending a year in jail, Bruno agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to time served.

Despite her denials, DCF officials fired Smith, saying she had falsified reports about referring Bruno for alcohol assessment.

An investigation also found that Smith had never received the required state certification to work as a child protective investigator.

Rather than appeal her firing, Smith tendered her resignation. She has accused the DCF of making her a scapegoat over Osceola's death.