Prosecutor: Day care notice didn’t seek charge, detail abuse

March 11, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Human Services told prosecutors that a suburban Des Moines day care was caring for too many children but did not detail abuse or request criminal action, county attorneys said just weeks after a child died after being found unresponsive at the facility.

Trina Mazza, 47, is charged with operating a home child care facility in Johnston without a license but she has not been charged in the child’s death last month, The Des Moines Register reported. Mazza’s attorney said she’s fully cooperating with the investigation.

Records show DHS sent Mazza and the Polk County Attorney’s Office notices that she was caring for too many children following complaints filed in 2011 and 2017. The department explained the law to Mazza, notified her of the allegations and offered to help her register her business with the state.

That was the extent of the department’s authority over the situation because the day care wasn’t registered, according to Matt Highland, a department spokesman.

County Attorney John Sarcone said his office didn’t take action because DHS didn’t specifically seek a criminal charge or include details of abuse in the notice.

“Neither of those letters asks for anything to be pursued,” Sarcone said. “Sending this over here is a means to achieve compliance, instead of asking charges be filed.”

The department said its “open to greater collaboration with county attorneys and law enforcement and will continue to evaluate our policies and procedures.”

Trina Mazza and her husband, Michael Mazza, were each charged last month with dependent adult abuse, first-degree theft and forgery in a separate case involving Michael Mazza’s mother.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com