Abandoned baby charges could be dropped

Cabbie charged with making up tale; Searching for father of baby left in cab
April 9, 2008 10:03:34 AM PDT
Prosecutors say charges will likely be dismissed against a New York livery driver who claimed an unknown man left a baby in his cab and disappeared.Klever Sailema made headlines after he took the adorable baby, Daniella, to the Queens firehouse in February.

He initially told investigators that a nervous-looking man got into his cab carrying the baby and a diaper bag, then disappeared after asking him to pull over so he could make a phone call.

Sailema, 44, provided enough detail that police released a sketch of the suspect. He repeated his tale to reporters at a news conference.

Two days later, police declared Sailema had made it up - and had plotted with Daniella's aunt to get rid of her. The baby's mother is a 14-year-old runaway from Baltimore, officials said.

Sailema was charged with falsely reporting an incident and criminal facilitation. His girlfriend, Maria Siavichay, was charged with criminal facilitation.

Attorneys for the couple implored the district attorney's office to drop the charges because they said they were only trying to help the baby.

Prosecutors have now agreed, saying charges will be dismissed at an October court hearing if the couple stays out of trouble until then.

"The defendants did have the child's best interests at heart when they brought her safely to a firehouse. They just went about it in the wrong way," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Siavichay is Daniella's aunt. She said the baby's father, Carlos Rodas, told her he couldn't cope with the little girl; she, in turn, asked Sailema to take Daniella to the firehouse.

Police said Wednesday that Rodas, 27, is still being sought, and might face a statutory rape charge because of the mother's age.

Sailema said he felt he was saving Daniella from a harsher fate and made up the story to protect his new girlfriend from questions about her immigration status.

"Everything was falling on my responsibility, on my shoulders," Sailema said. "I only thought about the child."

Sailema, who's originally from Ecuador, apologized "for making up something that didn't exist."

The baby and her teen mother, whose name has not been released, went back to Maryland. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Social Services has said decisions have been made for their well being. But she wouldn't say whether the baby and mother are together.