Cannabis controversy after Long Island family finds au pair smoking pot

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Friday, January 6, 2023
Cannabis controversy after family finds au pair smoking pot
Pot controversy: A Long Island couple needed 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda after Cultural Care Au Pair refused to issue a full refund.

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- What would you do if you found your au pair smoking pot just steps from your two young children?

A Long Island couple needed 7 On Your Side after one of the largest au pair placement companies refused to issue a full refund.

"In one word - devastated, my wife and I are completely devastated," said Hugo, who did not wish to use his family's last name.

Hugo's found his live-in au pair smoking a joint just steps from his daughters.

"To have this person come into your home you know that she's going to be caring for your kids at all times, and to find out in this fashion that she was doing that literally under our nose in the basement is saddening and disheartening," Hugo said.

He and his wife are full-time professionals. Last fall they searched for a caregiver for their toddler and 4-year-old girls, eventually deciding on an au pair -- a young person usually from another country to care for their kids and live in their home.

The couple paid $9,495, a year's fee, up front to the largest au pair placement company, Cultural Care Au Pair.

They fixed up a basement bedroom for the 20-something from Colombia and even paid hundreds for English lessons.

"She was part of the family and we treated her like that," Hugo said.

But just a few weeks after moving in, his wife smelled smoke coming from her room.

"The door was cracked open like this and there's a pair of pants lying at the bottom of the door to conceal the smoke coming out," Hugo said. "When she opened the door, I got a whiff of smoke."

The distraught dad said the young woman fessed up. He said she told him she had been smoking marijuana for two weeks.

She gave him a cigar tube holding her stash.

"I mean it was mind-blowing, tremendous concerns, especially since she was about to start driving the kids around," he said.

According to Cultural Care's agreement, "regardless of local laws the use, sale and possession of marijuana is illegal under federal law," and would be grounds for an au pair's program termination.

He sent a flurry of texts to his agency representative which he says responded a day later and made arrangements to remove the au pair the next day.

But Cultural Care only gave a "contractual refund" of $4,935. Hugo said he was seeking the full amount after putting in about $10,000. She was there a month and he paid for a year.

"They don't care," he said.

So 7 On Your Side contacted Cultural Care Au Pair and just days later, a rep stated, while "incidents of this nature are rare" they "regret that this family's participation in the program was disrupted."

They said they reached out to offer support along with a full refund, an additional $4,560.

The family was grateful to get their full refund.

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