NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - For the third time in four months, a Tampa Bay Area child protective investigator was fired and faces jail time for allegedly falsifying records in child abuse cases.
Julianna Nicolaro was placed on leave from her job as a Pasco County CPI back in August. She was arrested Wednesday and is now behind bars.
The 24-year-old is facing 11 felony charges for submitting phony records. According to arrest paperwork, Nicolaro completed child abuse investigation reports claiming she did home visits, interviewed parents and children, and gave people drug tests. When in reality, investigators say she never did the work. Reporting in court documents the people at the center of the 11 cases had “never seen or had any contact” with Nicolaro, and most of the time the GPS on her work car showed Nicolaro being near the office or her New Port Richey home.
“It was because we were doing the right things that led us to find this information out that led us to the arrest, and now to the subsequent termination of this individual,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
The sheriff's office said CPI supervisors reviewed the cases and noticed some red flags on Nicolaro’s completed reports.
Nocco says Nicolaro was able to provide detailed statements from individuals because she was reading deputies' reports.
“So she was basically copying their information and putting it into her own words,” Nocco said.
Investigators launched a massive audit, inspecting every case Nicolaro was assigned since being hired in September of 2017.
“We went back into all these cases, we reviewed over 200 of her cases so far, making sure that nothing else slipped through the cracks,” said Nocco.
Nearly four weeks ago, a CPI in Pinellas County was locked up for claiming she interviewed people she never spoke with. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says it happened in three of Taylor Martin’s cases.
“Finally admitted that she was lying, she admitted that she had falsified the records and justified it by saying she was overwhelmed,” said Gualtieri.
Back in June, another Pasco CPI was terminated. Kaylynn Scott was charged for lying after she fessed up to falsifying records.
“You have to go out there and do a thorough job, you have to go out there and protect, that’s what you signed up for,” Nocco said.
In this most recent case, the sheriff’s office says no children were in any danger, and officials are ensuring the abuse claims are properly investigated.