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Ohio social worker accepted bribe to 'look the other way' before 5-year-old boy's death

Posted at 11:45 AM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 15:16:59-05

An Ohio social worker accepted a bribe to "look the other way" before a 5-year-old boy was found buried in the backyard of a Cleveland home last month, prosecutors claim.

In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors claimed that, had the social worker been doing her job, she would have been in the home, witnessing the deplorable conditions. 

The prosecutor also announced Wednesday the arrest of a second person in connection to 5-year-old Jordan Rodriguez's death. The boy's mother, 34-year-old Larissa Rodriguez, was already charged with murder. Now her boyfriend, Christopher Rodriguez, is also facing a murder charge.

According to the prosecutor's office, the social worker would report to the home but, rather than going inside, she would accept a food stamp card from Larissa Rodriguez. The social worker would then go and purchase goods with the card and return the card to her afterward. Authorities say the social worker purchased the food stamps, that were meant to feed the children, for 50 cents on the dollar.

Officials said in the news conference Wednesday that the social worker was associated with an educational service company called Bright Beginnings. The director for Bright Beginnings said in a statement that the woman was employed by one of their contracted providers, Catholic Charities.

"We were very disturbed to hear about the situation," she said, in part. "We have been cooperating with public safety officials. Bright Beginnings is committed to serving families and children and will provide a update when more is known."

In December, five of Larissa Rodriguez's other children — ages 1 to 12 — were found in "deplorable and unsanitary" conditions after Jordan's body was found. Authorities said the house was filled with rats and cockroaches and one of the woman's children was seen eating a sandwich with cockroaches in it. 

The children were removed from the home when Larissa Rodriguez was taken into custody.