Grandmother charged in toddler death, county attorney accused of ignoring child's plight
The Sullivan County attorney is facing scrutiny in the high-profile death of a toddler after the county’s top prosecutor said the official repeatedly denied Child Protective Services requests to remove the child from her parents’ care.
Authorities say 16-month-old Akaasha Luvert was failed by the people who were supposed to care for her most.
The toddler’s parents, Jimmie Luvert and Lisa Keitt, were indicted Thursday for manslaughter in her suspected fentanyl overdose death this month. They pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Friday in county court.
Authorities allege they smoked fentanyl in front of her in their Liberty motel room and passed out before Akaasha Luvert got ahold of it
Authorities revealed at a news conference Thursday that the child’s grandmother, Lisa Ferdico-Vizard, was later charged in her death – just days after News 12 interviewed her crying at the girl’s vigil.
Liberty police allege the woman smoked crack-cocaine in front of the toddler and her surviving infant brother the day the child died.
Authorities also announced the arrest of Jacob McCoy, who they say sold the fentanyl that killed the toddler.
The tragedy has sparked widespread criticism about the involvement of CPS.
Acting District Attorney Brian Conaty said at the news conference about the tragic developments that his investigation found Sullivan County Attorney Michael McGuire ignored the child’s plight and denied three separate CPS requests to remove the children before it was too late.
“Under his regime, he created a culture of widespread apathy that has discouraged the workers from bringing forth appropriate requests to remove children," said Conaty.
McGuire was previously a family court judge, but he was removed from the bench in 2020 after the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct found he engaged in practices that were an abuse of power and misconduct.
Despite the findings, the Sullivan County Legislature appointed McGuire as county attorney that same year.
Legislative Chairman Robert Doherty has not responded to News 12's repeated attempts to get ahold of him, and a county spokesperson had no comment.
Conaty hasn’t said if the official could face charges, and McGuire has also declined to comment.
Attorneys for Akaasha Luvert’s parents tell News 12 their clients are upset and deeply sorry about the child’s death.