A Plainview nanny, using a concealed eye dropper, was caught sneaking an antihistamine to a 4-month-old girl by a mother watching on a nanny cam, said Monday.
Anneliese Brucato, 48, of Plainview, with felony assault after the nanny is seen on camera placing the eye dropper in the mouth of the little girl and squeezing out a clear liquid, said Nassau Det. Lt. Kevin Smith.
Police suspect the nanny of using the medication to intentionally keep the child "lethargic and sedated," Smith said. The child appears to be unhurt but is being closely monitored, authorities said.
"This woman had no right to do so," Smith said. "This could have been life-threatening."
The victim's mother observed the incident Friday afternoon while watching a live video feed, known by mothers as a "nanny cam." The video, shot from three or four cameras placed around the woman's home, streams into her laptop, allowing her to check in on her child regularly.
"The video shows the nanny standing over the girl at a changing table," Smith said. "At one point, (the suspect) reaches up for the dropper and then reaches into her pants pocket for another bottle and gives the child a substance in the mouth."
Nassau detectives believe the substance is a generic version of the over-the-counter antihistamine sold as Benadryl, Smith said. Brucato was not authorized to administer any medications to the infant, police said.
The powerful drug, diphenhydramine hydrochloride, has a strong hypnotic effect and is used as a non-prescription sleep aid by many adults. In larger doses it is used as a dangerous recreational drug.
"In this case you have a woman who is giving (the girl) something that could really harm her," Smith said. "On the bottle you can see the dosing is based on body weight. In the worse-case these drugs can cause seizures and convulsions."
Alarmed by what she had just witnessed, the child's mother raced home and confronted Brucato, Smith said. After initially denying any wrongdoing, Brucato admitted giving the child the antihistamine, he said. The mom ordered Brucato out of the house and contacted police.
Police searched for Brucato on Saturday but were unable to locate her. She surrendered to police on Sunday.
Police said Brucato had worked as a nanny for 10 years but had only been employed by the child's mother since January. Brucato has admitted giving the medication to the infant on three seperate occassions, police said.
Detectives are seeking additional information; the incident occurred at the victim's home in Laurel Hollow, an upscale community on the western shore of Cold Spring Harbor. They are concerned that this may not have been an isolated incident.
Brucato faces charges of second-degree assault, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child. She was arraigned Monday before Judge David W. McAndrews, who set bail at $30,000 bond or $15,000 cash. She is scheduled to appear again on the charges on Feb. 16. in Nassau County District Court.
Detectives are asking anyone with additional information to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous, police said.