Otoniel Feliz, the father of Nicholas Dominici, expressed his heartbreak, holding up a photograph of his son, whom he had hoped to see graduate from kindergarten in four years. Sadly, he now has a painful reminder of his son’s tragic death. Last month, the toddler lost his life, along with three other young children, after being exposed to fentanyl at their Bronx daycare center, according to officials.
In a press conference, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and other officials announced indictments on charges including murder and manslaughter against the daycare center’s operator, her husband, and the husband’s cousin in connection with Dominici’s death. Dominici was only 22 months old and had spent just a few days at the Divino Niño daycare center when he passed away on September 15.
Daycare operator Grei Mendez, 36, her husband Felix Herrera Garcia, 34, and Carlisto Brito, 41, were arraigned and ordered held without bail. Mendez and Brito were arrested after Dominici and three other children under Mendez’s care exhibited signs of opioid exposure. Herrera Garcia, who authorities say fled to Mexico, was apprehended there and subsequently extradited to New York.
Dominici was pronounced dead at a hospital, while the other three children, aged 8 months to 2 years old, received treatment for suspected fentanyl exposure.
Investigators discovered a kilogram of fentanyl in a closet at the daycare center, along with six kilograms of fentanyl, heroin, and other controlled substances hidden under a trap door beneath a padded mat where the children napped.
District Attorney Clark described the situation as a catastrophe and expressed her sorrow and outrage, emphasizing the responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of the children.
Andres Aranda, an attorney representing Mendez, stated that his client had no knowledge of any fentanyl operation and asserted her innocence. Messages seeking comment were left with attorneys representing Brito and Herrera Garcia.
The defendants, along with a fourth individual, are also facing federal narcotics charges.
Feliz, Dominici’s father, spoke in both Spanish and English, describing how he had placed his trust in Mendez during his son’s brief time at the daycare center. He expressed a sense of betrayal by the daycare center, which had regularly provided photos and text messages to keep parents informed. Feliz thanked those involved in the case but acknowledged that nothing could bring his son back.