5-year-old’s death investigation: children’s services provider accepted $10,000 in food stamps as bribe, prosecutor says

CLEVELAND-- The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office discussed new details on Wednesday in the murder of a 5-year-old boy, who was buried in a backyard.

Investigators found the remains of 5-year-old Jordan Rodriguez behind a house on West 80th Street on Dec. 19. Court documents said the body showed signs of abuse, including broken ribs.

His mother, 34-year-old Larissa Rodriguez, was charged with murder, felonious assault, endangering children and offenses against a human corpse. She pleaded not guilty and her bond was set at $1 million.

On Wednesday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley said 36-year-old Christopher Rodriguez, the mother's boyfriend, was indicted for murder, felonious assault, endangering children and gross abuse of a corpse. He was already being held at the Medina County Jail on unrelated charges.

Investigators also announced Larissa Rodriguez and children’s services provider Nancy Caraballo were indicted on trafficking in food stamps.

Caraballo worked for Catholic Charities and was contracted by Bright Beginnings, which is funded by Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio. O'Malley said she bought more than $10,000 in food stamps from Rodriguez for .50 cents to the $1. It lasted from July 2015 to December 2017.

Catholic Charities says it fired Caraballo after the investigation came to light.

Caraballo was assigned to the family to make home visitations. She should have been making regular visits to the home, but investigators found many times she lied about going there. O'Malley said Caraballo ignored her obligation to report the abuse and neglect because she was receiving the food stamps as a bribe.

“Selfish criminal acts such as these, take the food from the children who cannot provide for themselves, making them the true victims of these crimes," said Agent-in-Charge Greg Croft, of the Ohio Department. of Public Safety’s Ohio Investigative Unit

Caraballo could be sentenced to 50 years in prison. According to O'Malley, if it's determined that malnutrition played a role in Jordan's death, she would face additional charges.

The Cleveland Division of Police began investigating the case after receiving a call from Pakistan. The caller said Larissa Rodriguez and her boyfriend, Christopher Rodriguez, buried the boy in the backyard, according to the police report.

Jordan had not been seen alive since September. Prosecutors said he suffered from multiple ailments and his mother failed to get him medical attention.

Larissa Rodriguez has nine children and is pregnant. A Cuyahoga County spokeswoman said child welfare case workers have dealt with Rodriguez since 1999. The complaints range from neglect to physical abuse.

Continuing coverage on this story here