Olivia Merolli, the unlicensed daycare provider who admits to losing a 2-year-old from her home in February, could face legal trouble.
The Maricopa Police Department forwarded one charge of “child or vulnerable adult abuse” against Merolli to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office after the investigation ended in March.
If PCAO pursues the recommendation, Merolli could face a minimum of 2.5 years behind bars if convicted of the class 3 felony for recklessly endangering the health or welfare of a child.
Additionally, MPD submitted its investigation into Merolli’s in-home daycare operation to Arizona Department of Health Services, the agency that regulates childcare facilities.
The police investigation alleges Merolli told officers she was caring for 14 children, ranging from 9 months old to 4 years old, in her Rancho El Dorado home the day the child went missing for two hours on Feb. 20.
A childcare provider supervising five children or more must be licensed by the state.
The MPD report alleges Merolli said “she already knew she wasn’t supposed to have 14 children at her residence, but she didn’t attempt to hide that (from officers).”
As previously reported, Merolli said she wasn’t aware the 2-year-old boy was gone from the home until his father arrived to pick him up. She could not be reached for comment on this story.
The report said landscapers found the child 0.2 miles from Merolli’s home – an estimated 3-minute walk.
Steven Ross, the boy’s father, said he and his girlfriend will pursue civil damages against Merolli.
“We’re also going to be pursuing a lawsuit for emotional distress and pain and suffering and anything else we can,” Ross said.
Merolli allegedly told officers during the investigation that her other clients were aware the child had gone missing while under her care, but they “will continue to use her services.”