Herkimer’s Rogue CPS Workers

Herkimer CPS Workers

by Stephen Ames Berry

In March, in flagrant violation of New York law, two  rogue CPS workers, Sara Riente and Lisa Bates, abused their positions and took a malicious hand in a child custody court battle in another state. They acted so brazenly, so unprofessionally and so illegally under the color of authority that we think this sort of malfeasance has long been tolerated in Herkimer County.  

“Herkimer! Protect My Precious $on!”

We were recently subjected to false allegations of child abuse by our son-in-law, an Indian national, as he tried to gain sole custody of our two-year-old  grandson. He’s a very glib professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The kid’s not his natural son. According to our daughter’s court filings, in which she alleged spousal abuse and neglect, her husband never bought the child clothes or toys, never allowed stuff we sent to reach him, and referred to child as “the little bastard.”  Here’s our grandson Avram in our home last January, with first-ever new clothes and toys:

Somangshu Mukherji's son
Grandson Avram’s first-ever new clothes and toys.

Had our grandchild remained here with his mother, the good professor might have ended up paying $1,000+ a month in child support until the child was 21. He seems to have done the math, as his feet barely touched the ground on his way to his attorney’s office to file for sole custody. To protect his “son”. 

Our daughter had barely filed her child support payment application before her husband reported her and us for child neglect and abuse with New York.  Herkimer Child Protection Worker Sara Riente promptly came to our house, spent fifteen minutes investigating our grandson’s safety, offered no criticism and left. She made one even shorter followup visit a month or so later.

In March, we received letters from from NY Child Welfare exonerating us of our son-in-law’s baseless accusations: “Unfounded” was the official finding.  Yet this was not the end of the matter.  Riente and her colleague Lisa Bates then came to our son-in-law’s aid in his Michigan custody case, giving him a document that was as damning of our family as it was illegal:

“At this time Avram does not meet the [standards of abuse or neglect]. [However] it does appear that it would be in the child’s best interest to be in the care of the parent who can provide access to regular medical care, a stable and sufficient and living environment and age appropriate supervision and care for a young child. Based on the evidence gathered during this investigation, this Department’s decision would be that [the mother] is not providing the above-mentioned care.”

Herkimer CPS Workers Go Rogue

Apparently dismayed at finding our grandchild healthy, well-fed, well-clothed and safe with people of whom they seemingly disapproved, Herkimer CPS workers Riente and Bates went rogue, colluding with our son-in-law: at his request, they wrote him an “official”Herkimer County Social Services letter, falsely stating that “it is the opinion of this Department” that our grandchild would be better off with his father. Our daughter only became aware of their poisonous letter when she received a copy of her husband’s court filing, in which it was offered as evidence of her unfitness as a mother and of our home as [not] stable and  [in]sufficient.

Bogus Herkimer Social Services’ Letter A Key Exhibit

In their venomous letter in support of our daughter’s husband, Riente and Bates threw aside all pretense of impartiality and professionalism. They miscast their libelous opinions as “the finding of this Department.” Seemingly not liking the “Unfounded” decision they were required to support under state law as child protection workers, they magically morphed into Herkimer county workers to express a different “official” finding,  subverting the law they were supposed to uphold.  Our son-in-law’s attorney cited their letter as key evidence that our daughter was an unfit mother and ours “not a loving home, Your Honor.”  Their treachery helped lose her custody of her son. 

CPS Workers’ Defamatory Letter In Support Of Plaintiff

Here’s Riente and Bates’ letter to my son-in-law, Somangshu Mukherji. I’ve redacted just about all the confidential information they malfeasantly  revealed, except for their conclusion on page 2, in which they dispute the lawful conclusion New York law compelled them to reach. They falsely present their scurrilous opinion as an official finding of Herkimer County Social Services. 

Cps ltr redacted

Despite our daughter’s request that the Michigan court disregard the Herkimer CPS’ workers letter as a violation of New York law, the court did not exclude it.

After several court appearances, our daughter lost custody of her son and he was returned to his father in Michigan–a process that was yet another instance of Herkimer County employees playing fast and loose with the law. 

Reporting Herkimer County Child Protection Workers’ Malfeasance

New York law enforces the right to confidentiality by those investigated by social services workers. It is one of the strongest in the nation. CPS workers Riente and Bates’ letter is a violation  of confidentiality under 18 NYCRR 432.7 and Social Service Law §§422(4)(A) & 427- a(5)(d)], and the New York’s Child Protective Services Manual. It’s a Class A Misdemeanor. The only information that should have been released to the father was whether his complaint was “indicated” or “unfounded”.  Anything beyond that is a breech of confidentiality under New York law.. New York has an excellent and concise guide to the procedure.

Filing Complaints About Herkimer CPS Workers’ Illegalities

If we tolerate outrageous and lawless conduct, it will continue.  Complaints about Herkimer Child Protection Workers’ actions should be sent to:

Sara Simon, Director
Syracuse Regional Office
NYS Office of Children and Family 
The Atrium, 100 S. Salina Street, Suite 350
Syracuse, NY 13202

New York Attorney General,  Bureau of Public Integrity

New York Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad St., 19th Fl., New York,
NY 10004. Telephone: 212-607-3300

Sue Them

You can also sue.  In a case like our daughter’s, where the evidence of malfeasance is low-hanging fruit, an attorney might take the case for damages on a contingency fee basis. Herkimer CPS workers are probably not worth suing. New York State is a sovereign entity and can rarely be sued. But Herkimer County can be.

This is New York, not Alabama. We have laws to protect us from illegal actions such as those of Herkimer’s rogue CPS workers. Make the law work for you. 

Child protection workers who engage in lawless vendettas against struggling parents and families simply because they disapprove of them should find another vocation. 

Author:

This blog is my perspective on dwelling in our small village nestled among beautiful forests, farms and open landscapes. Educated in Israel and the US, I have an MS in Computer Science. My viewpoint has been shaped by world travel, friends and benefactors both strangers and people I know. Linda Kaidan