ACS Sees First Prosecution Of Case Workers In NYC

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Two social workers with the Administration for Children’s Services were accused of failing to help a little girl they may have saved.

brooklyn mother ACS Sees First Prosecution Of Case Workers In NYC

Carlotta Brett-Pierce (Photo/MySpace)

Former workers Chereece Bell and Damon Adams were charged with criminally negligent homicide – the first such prosecution of ACS case workers in New York City.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes was vowing to investigating the entire agency.

“There’s an Italian word. It’s called basta. It means enough,” said Hynes.

Adams was accused of never visiting 4-year-old Marchella Brett-Pierce who was beaten and weighed just 18 pounds when she died in September, and with falsifying records after her death.

Bell, who supervised Adams, faced charges for failing to monitor his work.

Bell’s lawyer said they shouldn’t be held responsible.

“Where is the management? How about the people that were in charge?” said attorney Joshua Horowitz.

Union leaders said the prosecution amounts to a witchhunt.

“Indict the whole agency. Indict the decision makers, indict the people that cut the budget so there were no preventive service workers left,” argued Faye Moore, president of the Social Service Employees Union.

The little girl’s mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, was charged in November with second-degree murder.

Her grandmother, Loretta Brett, was added to the long list of those allegedly responsible for the tragic death Wednesday. She’s charged with second-degree manslaughter.

This agency was supposed to adopt new policies following the death of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown in 2006. The DA said a special grand jury will investigate if the agency actually did so.

What should be done at the ACS? Let us know below…

  • Beth Norwood

    Let’s make people get a license to breed. Otherwise THEY can’t do THEIR job…as FIT PARENTS.

  • tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

  • anastasia

    I think that acs is not doing a good job at watching kids and I think that they should have did more of the investigation on the child I believe they should of removed her from the the home instead of leaving her there

  • Isis

    I agree with Hector

  • Leah S.

    To those saying they should not go to jail, WHY?! It’s called Indifference to human life!!! They KNEW a little girl was at risk for something serious, and when a 4 year old weighs less than an average 6 month old, that is not something that happens overnight. ACS is supposed to be the voice of these children, instead they are the ones nailing the coffins shut!

  • Ronald Williams

    ACS also likes to dehumanize parents by putting them on medication because of the emotional trauma that separates families…babies from new parents because some nurse wants report how the mother was feeding the child was wrong… because you are angry that your child is taken, now they want to recommend anger management. let me take one of your children falsely and then you tell me what you experience! You’d be sitting right next to the one you wanted to be on medication and in anger management. ACS breaks up families where the father or mother has to leave the home in order for the children to come back into the home; only to find out one of the parents is not there… Now you have the child confused as to where that other parent is and having to explain this to a confused child is not good.

  • Ronald Williams

    ACS lies most of the time. I remember hearing cases where they thought the parent hit the child when it was apparent the bruise was from a fall of a bike and was in the healing stage. Kids in foster care getting beat on, but when you bring it to their attention whether in writing or spoken, nothing is done. Bunch of wicked people. Im overworked also, but I still have a care for my job at the end of the day.

  • Tucker

    Everyone commenting should keep in mind that criminal charges are mere allegations. Both of these individuals are innocent until proven guilty. They are not in a position to comment right now,and may never be. The media has limited information on what happened, and the information the media has is limited to what is public record.

    • Ali

      Oh please, what about the countless parents found “guilty” of abuse, based on allegations?! IF they truly are “innocent” then ACS is only getting a taste of what they dish out!

      • Shayna Velazquez

        EXACTLY, THANK YOU!! And they are the the first of MANY yet to be exposed!!

  • Marcia

    My family and I have been victims of ACS lies for the past year. The false allegations made against my ex husband and the wonderful father of our kids made by his ex girlfriend gave ACS a perfect opportunity to create a case . That is what I learned.I use to admire ACS workers so much that I wanted to become one until I saw many workers, and supervisors lie. It makes me so mad and sick!I have no respect for the workers involve in my case and don’t trust this agency.It does not matter if you have ten masters degrees, PHDs. It means nothing when you lie! I will fight against ACS until the end! By the way, my ex- husband is a hard working black man who will die for his kids! I don’t feel sorry for people who don’t do their jobs the honest way especially when that job involves the welfare of children!

  • Michael D. Foster

    Acs has always been flawed, I to was one of those kids who “slipped through the cracks” and so was my brother William E. Foster Jr. My brother and I were split up in 1984 for no reason at all, and to this day im still looking for him. I can remember begging my social worker to get me out of the very first foster home they placed me in, do to constant unjustified abuse. no matter how much I begged this man to help not just me, but the other children that were also being abused, he never did anything. This went on for five years untill i finally ran away in the middle of a blizzard after being beat with a broom stick because I started to cry when the radio said that my school was closed. when the cops found me a few days later starving, cold but in good spirits, I told them everything that I had been telling the worker for the past five years and the next day all of us were removed. I could fill a five hundred page book about ACS and there ability to destroy a childs quality of life. At the end of the day, ACS is all talk and the only time they manage to get anything done is when they get the wrong attention.

  • so sad in bklyn

    May this child’s soul rest in peace and all Of these expressed emotions result in action that encourages true child welfare reform. As a society we tend to thrive off of instant gratification of immediate reactions and response to possibly preventable fatalities.
    Criminalizing workers that for the most part work extremely hard under conditions that many wouldn’t think of, doesn’t make the situation better nor does it hold accountable this system that is not set up to truly support the black and latino families its suppose to.
    I too am appalled by the number of fatalities that have happened Under this administration alone and yet we are still playing this superficial blame game. ACS needs a critical look from the top down. How the agency has undergone tremendous cuts however find it in the budget to hire so many chiefs (lawyers, analyst commisioners) but rid of all the indians (child welfare, public service professionals).
    we are in very serious times and we all need to become socially and politically involved, spiritually equipped and ready to take action in standing up for what’s right! Be the change/reform you expect.

  • Anonymous Social Worker

    I am a LCSW and have vowed to NEVER work for a state or city agency such as ACS/DFACS/CPS…whatever you want to call it depending on the state and jurisdiction for this very fact. These agencies are operating completely wrong and many times the responsibility falls on overworked and underpaid social workers at the bottom of the company’s hierarchy. I am by no means minimizing the gravity of what both of these health professionals did but the overall system is flawed and unfortunately until things change (starting at the top), and I mean REALLY CHANGE….children will continue to die under the ‘system umbrella’ that is meant to protect them.

    • Shayna Velazquez

      So why are social workers like yourself with holding information that may perhaps result in the change needed for families that are victimized by caseworkers and supervisors in the ACS?

  • Mr Joey Bennett

    Everything needed to be said will be said from me Mr Joey Bennett in respect of the little girl.This happen under the umbrella of asc,and nothing more. The agency and its employees have a responsibility to protect the welfare of these children.Lets talk about the acs and their guidelines that envelop these children. In this particular case why wer’ernt they implemented? Lets goe a little further, only two staff, found,negligent of their job duties. What happen to the ladder? John Mattingly is way out of his circle,I,can be more effective any time of the day with this agency.Rest in peace little one i, promise you i will fight to unseat all of those on that ladder Mr Bennett,i am not afraid of the agency.

  • SamSam

    These ACS workers are not criminals. They failed to do thier job & therefore no longer have it. They were also wrong for adding false records, even if they were forced to by upper mgmt (Everyone lies & everyone makes mistakes & I am sure they regret doing this). But the child died because of the people who starved, beat & drugged her – the ACS workers are Not responsible for her death. How is putting 2 people in prison who have helped alot of other children in the past going to change anything? These are good people. You can’t save all the kids & there were a bunch of other kids who died in the past while ACS was involved & failed to do thier job (11 kids died in 8 months) none of those ACS workers were indicted- Why single these 2 people out???

    • SamSam

      Which person commenting here NEVER lied or NEVER made a mistake? You cast the first stone….SMH

    • sylvia

      Are you jocking? I truly hope so!
      “They failed to do their job & therefore no longer have it.” Oh, poor them, just, you know, send them to their room with no TV. Too bad their “failing to do their job” resulted in the death of a 4 year old girl!!!
      Yes, the mother killed the daughter physically but do you know why this actually happened? Because those two people didn’t do what they were supposed to do, what they were PAID to do. If you can’t do your job leave!
      And please, these workers make me so angry, try to be a lawyer or having your own business to run and see how many hours of work you put in. We’re talking about children and their lives! If you chose this job you better do it because you want to!
      I just got a bit of info on these “Overworked” people: apparently each one of them is now responsible for 9 cases, children I guess. So, you don’t have time to go visit these children and make sure everything is ok with them? What do you do in your 40 weekly hours? I can only imagine because I know what happens in these offices that are run by the state/city. You start working at 10, you have coffee at 10:30, lunch at 12 and a little internet surfing at 2pm. Please, overworked!!
      You don’t go checking on one of your cases for one year and a 4-year old weights 18 pounds. You’re a monster for not making sure this child is safe because you KNOW her conditions at home, you KNOW her mother is a drug addict, you KNOW the girl was left at a hospital by herself, you KNOW she needs lots of medical attention and you KNOW the mother needs to be monitored in this respect. You don’t check for a year? YOU ARE A MONSTER. AND YOU SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO THE EXTENT OF THE LAW.

      And BTW SamSam, 11 children died? What are your sources? SOURCES please, not words out of your a…


      @SamSam: “Everyone lies” ???? I’m pretty sure that when state workers AND supervisors AND directors AND CEOs of an agency that takes public money and wields virtually unaccountable power over the lives of families and children in the name of child protection LIES, it’s pretty important. When those lies attempt to cover up responsibility for the death of a child, it turns from unethical to ILLEGAL and DESPICABLE.

      I agree that while the caseworker committed a crime, he is not the most to blame. It is his supervisor and the directors of the agency who must be prosecuted and lose their jobs.

      The caseworker is just a “fall guy,” and if they only go after the lowest rungs on this criminal ladder, nothing will ever change. However, if the DA prosecutes the supervisors and the directors (hopefully the grand jury will uncover the fact that they were complicit in the negligence and training and ignoring), then yes, things will change.

      Let’s not let this little girl’s horrible death be in vain. Enough, indeed.

  • Laura

    The criminal charge seems to do more for the district attorney than the children of NYC. There are certainly bad workers. Were Chereece and Damon two of them? I don’t know. But being a bad worker is not a criminal offense and charging them with such is grandstanding. The ASC is culpable if it didn’t have bad workers under disciplinary action.

    • SamSam


    • Sylvia

      “Were Chereece and Damon two of them? I don’t know”. You don’t know? The guy NEVER visited the girl. You still don’t know?
      All this that I’m reading is completely absurd. The only thing I can think of is that all these comments are from ACS workers. Period.

  • ACS Worker

    We have too many cases and underpaid. We put our lives at risk when we visit neighborhoods that are are crime and drug infested. It’s a tough job and we get no respect. We get the blame when a child dies.

    • Ronald Williams

      then find another job. you knew what you signed up for. please you act like you never lived in a bad neighborhood. do your job and stop whining!

    • Sylvia

      And be ashamed of writing such stupidities.

  • Thatone

    First of all they are CASEWORKERS and not SOCIAL WORKERS. Social workers are licensed professionals and adhere to different standards than case workers. With that said, I used to work at ACS and knew Ms. Bell quite well. Never liked her personally but I know as a supervisor she was on the ball for the most part. Plus she’s no dummy-she worked in the same unit as those that were involved in the Nixmary Brown case. She saw what happened to her former supervisor Andrew Bartley and co-worker Joyceline St. Hill so she knew to watch her step. I have a hard time believing the story. I really hope its not true but if it is, I still believe criminally charging them is too harsh.

    • KidDefender

      Those who work for ACS are SOCIAL WORKERS, only at a lower level; just as those who have an LCSW have higher credentials than SOCIAL WORKERS with a mere MSW. And yes, I too used to work for ACS and coincidentally attended undergrad with Ms. Bell. I had a few classes with her, but didn’t really know her. However, I do agree with Thatone that crminally charging these two workers is a bit harsh. The possibly “eternal” guilt and shame may suffice, especially since they felt the need to resign from their “rather high paying” positions.

      • Thatone

        NO. While some ACS positions have you doing SOCIAL WORK, most positions (including that of Ms. Bell and Mr. Adams) are actually caseworkers. There are social workers in ACS but these two are/were caseworkers. The profession has been fighting for people to understand the distinction for years and it is actually now strict guildelines as to who may call themselves social workers. This is not an “elitist” distinction. It has to do w/salary changes, professional ethics, licensing etc. (amongst other issues).

        This case is a clear example of the city shifting the blame and ACS throwing its workers (once again) under the bus whenever they, as an agency, come under fire. The system is in need of a major overhaul from top to bottom. The current Commissioner has had too many children die under his watch and yet Bloomberg continues to praise him. If the charges are true, fire them, bring them up on civil charges, charge them with forgery, tampering etc. But to charge them with homicide? Too much!

    • I am not afraid Mr Joey Bennett

      Hi My name is joey i want to say with kindess,ponder on what you have said in her defense a little more.Thank God it wasn’t not you,they would be charging you also . Remember this is a little girl who lost her life under the watch of acs, and those assigned to that case.Remember their is a level of responsibility you have with these children,yes,it would be nice if it was just a pay check and go home,up the ladder should have explained all of the i’s and t’ to that team of staff.To remind you the code of ethics for social workers and caseworkers are the same,do not ever forget that as long as you are in this line of work.May that little girl rest peacefully.

    • J


  • CriminallyProsecutedScapegoats

    I am a proud CPS worker and have worked with Chereece and Damon since they were FORCED to resign. To everyone that made a negative, insensitive and just plain ignorant comment on this topic, I just hope and pray you can be half as good on your jobs as Chereece and Damon were on theirs. You People have NO IDEA what WE deal with, and what they went through. Because I have been here when everything went down I can tell all of you that ALL of the Statistic, information, and Data that you have been reading are FALSE. It is really sad how easy people can just take everything the Media tells them for Face-Value and believe these allegations. My Friends were instructed to do things that now the agency has accused them of lying about. ACS works their CPS worker’s to the bone and our Commissioner has not even come and speak to us personally about the incident. Carlotta killed her daughter, Not my Friends. When any of you that spew this hatred can tell me they have walked through Bedford Stuyvesant in 10 degree weather, with no gun or badge attempting to do the “Commissioner’s Work”, then you can speak. When you have NYPD, telling you that they would not be a CPS worker that says a lot. I pray that you all never go through what we have been going through these last months.

  • John Mcnamara

    If reports weren’t allowed to be made anonymously, there would not be such an overload of cases.

    • jtorres

      If reports weren’t allowed to be made anonymously, there would be a lot less people willing to call out of fear. No call, no investigation, more abused & dead children.

    • Jodi


  • Jodi

    Well we all have our opinions don’t we, Dottie? Whatev. In a perfect world…this wouldn’t have happened. Thats the bottom line.

  • dottie

    The report reads: Adams was accused of NEVER visiting 4-year-old Marchella Brett-Pierce…what does that tell you. So you go home late at nite….so does the rest of the working community.
    Two words: JAIL TIME!

    • SamSam

      Dottie, have you ever made a mistake? have you ever lied? If your answer is NO you cast the first stone, “perfect one”. Adams didn’t do his job properly but he does not deserve to go to jail, he no longer has his job. Her mother on the other hand did the ACTIONS- beating, not feeding, drugging her own child- that caused the child’s death, her mother killed her.

  • dottie

    EXCUSES EXCUSES…don’t want to hear it. Overworked and underpaid..ok..hellllooooo, how many of us are doing that…THAT is your argument? Oh please, REPEATED NEGLECT…where is the child’s justice…let’s see how you react if that happened to your child.

    • KidDefender

      FYI; When I worked for ACS, I was never broke. Now I work for for a private foster agency under ACS doing 5 times more work and get paid nearly $15,000 less. The ACS workers can afford vehicles and only cover a particular district. Oh, and I did I mention, they get paid O/T for coming home late. I don’t have much sympathy because I know the visits couldn’t have gotten done A LOT swifter than a worker at a private agency. However, jail time? The court may want to rethink that.

  • Jodi

    Oh Hector, I think the word you are looking for is inefficiency?

    Everyone who’s never worked for ACS can sit here and make all these assumptions and have all these opinions, but no one really knows what its like to work for the agency…unless you’ve worked for the Agency!

    I have and I dont think those two should be on trial. Its very unfortunate that this child died. We don’t know how overwhelmed these workers were…I can almost bet anything…they were swimming in work. Its a 9-5 but I remember going home every night at 8:30- 9PM! ACS workers work hard! And its still not enough because its so much to be done! No one is perfect and things are going to slip through the cracks…its sad that the result could possible be a child’s life. That’s why I got out when I did.

    Also, no one ever reports on the good. You never hear all the abuse that ACS has stopped, or all the children they have remove from abusive homes, or all the parents they filed against in court! No one reports on that!

    We should look to blame higher ups…in providing more case workers so the case load is less. Thats what needs to change! Its unfortunate for all parties involved.

  • dottie

    We all work hard…DO YOUR JOB!

  • dottie




  • James Ebron

    I don’t feel as if the workers should go to jail for the childs death..
    But should be held acountable for any false reports that was filed, only!!

    If you began charging case workers for deaths of childern that are adused.
    Than you must charge the States Government !!

  • Fire Fly

    To answer your question Hector….There are workers that have up to 15 OPEN INVESTIGATION CASES not including the cases that are either in Court or Service stages! The AREA that these two service is a HIGH RISK Area a number of their cases is a high priority!! These people have FAMILIES after they leave the “JOB” So when you sit there and say that it’s just a job to them….THINK OF THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN THAT WERE SAVED OR THE FAMILIES THAT WERE GIVEN HELP….THE MEDIA NEVER GIVES ACKNOWLEDGMENT TO THAT NOW DO THEY?! Please understand YES they do bare some responsibility and loosing their jobs was enough! There were things that should’ve been done that was not and that is THEIR fault. But do not sit there and condemn these people who have a number of years on the job and saved MANY lives and HELPED MANY families. Next time maybe you should ask a question first before you make a statement. THE AGENCY IS VERY MUCH NEEDED but only when they ARE CALLED! And this is only the beginning!!

    • Jodi

      Yes Fire Fly! I agree 100%! You must be a worker! Everyone has there two cents…all who’s never worked for the agency.

  • Bob Borzotta

    Social workers make too little money, so the field doesn’t attract enough talented people, so agencies often have to hire people who just want a job, rather than dedicated professionals. If it’s your job to help and you fail, you should be fired; if it’s your job to prevent a homicide and you fail, you should be fired. But if it’s your job to prevent a homicide and you don’t bother with the matter, then cover up your inaction and falsify reports, you go down with the killer. This is a case that deserves prosecution, and a subject that deserves the media spotlight.

  • tim b

    “These workers have huge caseloads, no money.”
    These people falsified docuemnts saying they were visiting this child – do you really think they were working hard during those times they wrote down they were checking on this child? This is not baout the budget, it is about being a lazy gov’t worker and not doing your job. And a little girl is dead now.

    • Voice of Reason

      So…let me get this straight…you believe that this was the only serious case? Could it be that out of the 15 cases a mistake was made. Speaking out of ignorance should be a felony….

      • Ameils

        No. No rational, intelligent person thinks that this is the only serious case for the workers; but they lied…..he did not make the visits and he said he did – that’s on him…not on the agency, not on the gov’t that is a matter of personal responsibility that he flubbed on. I get that these workers are not paid well enough for all that they do, then don’t take the job! If you do take the job, then you have a responsibility to perform. As for falisifying the death records – that has to be punishable under the law. As for covering up her work’er’s bad behavior, she should definitely be terminated. Let’s not lose sight here in the rhetoric – a child lost her ife – none of these people cared enough.

  • Lynn Andrews

    Why didn’t the state monitor the agency after it failed to protect the other children? I am quite sure the budge twas cut so deeply that proper supervision was impossible. The worker and supervisor should be charged with falsifying the records and be reprimanded accordingly. Charging them with homicide is assinine! Are we going to start charging cops when they respond to domestics and then the abuser kills their partner at a later date? Are we going to charge therapists when their clients commit suicide? The grandmother and mother are clearly the ones who killed the child, not the caseworkers. Social work is a very emotionally taxing field. Often, the working conditions are substandard, the pay is rotten, and the stress is overwhelming. Too many cases and not enough workers. Burnout in inevitable. Reform the system!

    • Bridget

      I totally agree with you. However, I think a jury will be very stupid and convict these workers. These workers have huge caseloads, no money. They should be fired not on trial. What’s next convict the neighbors (who had to have known something was wrong).

      • hector

        What this situation shows is ACS conditions and the inaficiency of the organization. ACS was needed back in the days to deal with a rampent situation. Today we live in a different world where people have outgrown ignorance of dealing with children. ACS is a dinasour. They are just trying to justify their existance by meeting quotas. How many cases you think each case worker has? They are not trainned or prepared to deal with different situations. Its just a job to them. I say get rid of ACS. We are spending so much money on services that arent needed. They do more harm than good.

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