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Illegal WNY day care owner fined $25,000 after judge cuts penalty

A $440,000 state fine against a Wyoming County woman who ran an illegal day care in her home for years has been dropped to $25,000.

Even with the reduction, the $25,000 fine still represents the largest civil penalty imposed by the state against an unlicensed day care, according to a spokesperson for the state Office of Children and Family Services.

Under terms of a court-approved agreement, Maureen Szwaczkowski can never run a day care again in New York and she must perform 140 hours of community service. She also must allow state inspectors into her home so that they can verify if she is living up to the deal.

Szwaczkowski was accused of hiding children in the attic of her Village of Perry home when inspectors from the Office of Children and Family Services attempted to verify that she was complying with a court order to quit operating an unlicensed day care.

Her license was revoked in 2014 after the state cited her for failing to have adequate staffing levels for the group family day care she ran at her Buckland Avenue residence.

But inspectors conducted surveillance and determined she continued to operate the business, according to state officials.

In May 2015, the Office of Children and Family Services imposed a $500-a-day civil fine against Szwaczkowski that had increased to $440,000 by earlier this year.

The State Attorney General’s Office began civil proceedings against Szwaczkowski on behalf of the Office of Children and Family Services, which led to negotiations between the parties. The agreement, approved by Wyoming County Judge Michael M. Mohun, was publicly filed Tuesday.

“This settlement is clear: OCFS does not tolerate willful violations of state regulations that exist to keep children safe,” said Monica Mahaffey, a spokesperson for the Office of Children and Family Services. “If she fails to uphold the terms of the agreement, she may be held in contempt, which could result in additional fines or a jail sentence."

The News attempted to call Szwaczkowski for a comment but a phone number associated with her Perry home was disconnected.

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