Oneonta, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced a former employee of Springbrook, an organization that serves people with developmental disabilities in Sidney, NY, was arrested on charges she drove an agency vehicle erratically while texting on her phone, jeopardizing the safety of a passenger.
Christi L. Swartwout (DOB: 02/08/1987) of Sidney is charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person in the First Degree, a class “E” felony.
The charges stem from an August 17, 2016 incident in which the defendant was transporting an individual with developmental disabilities when she was observed driving erratically, nearly colliding with other cars. The defendant is also alleged to have been texting at the time. A private citizen witnessed the event and reported it.
Springbrook is licensed and certified by the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Swartwout, who has been terminated from her position as a Health Care Assistant, was arraigned before the Honorable Lucy P. Bernier of Oneonta City Court and released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled to reappear in court on March 21.
“When vulnerable people are in your care, you are responsible for their safety and welfare,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “Driving erratically and ignoring your duty to your passengers in order to text, as this defendant is alleged to have done, puts everyone in the vehicle at risk. We are grateful to the citizen who came forward. Without this individual, the incident may never have come to light.”
Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Linda E. Gafford is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Justice Center investigators Scott Evans and Andrew Smith. Gunning thanked the Otsego County District’s Office for its support of this Justice Center led prosecution.
About the Justice Center
The Justice Center began operations on June 30, 2013. It operates a toll-free hotline that receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs can make a report. Mandated reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect that a reportable incident has occurred by staff must report it to the Justice Center immediately upon discovery. The Justice Center is not a first responder, so if a report involves an emergency situation, the caller is instructed to hang up and dial 9-1-1.
The Justice Center is authorized to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local district attorneys to prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all potential criminal cases.
Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.
Editor’s note: In compliance with Rule 3.6(b)(6) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, you are advised that a charge is an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2017 Contact: Bill Reynolds (518) 549-0200