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One Social Worker
October 10, 2011 permalink
North Carolina social worker Yvette Jadine Smithen has been arrested twice in one week: for resisting arrest at a party in her home and for driving drunk with a child in her car.
Gaston DSS worker accused of 2 crimes in 1 week
A Gaston County social worker has been arrested two times in one week.
Her first arrest involved a party at her house and the second alleges that she drove drunk with a child in her car.
Yvette Jadine Smithen, 42, was stopped by Shelby Police in the 2100 block of East Dixon Boulevard on Saturday. The officer determined Smithen had been drinking and charged her with DWI.
A 4-year-old boy was in the car when police took her into custody.
Smithen was released on an unsecured bond.
Saturday marked the second time in one week that the Child Protective Services caseworker found herself locked up.
On Oct. 2, Smithen was charged with resisting arrest in a Gaston County incident. According to the arrest report, Smithen interfered with police when they came to the scene of a party that afternoon. The party was at her home on Bent Branch Street.
Her boss, Keith Moon, said Smithen told him the incident happened during a party that she was throwing at her house.
Director of Gaston County DSS, Moon said the Gastonia woman has only been with the department for a month. She makes $41,211.
Employees are required to report arrests to their supervisors.
Smithen did so last week, and she sent Moon an email requesting a meeting Monday.
People are not guilty of a crime just because they are charged, so firing an employee over pending cases isn’t protocol, said Moon.
Smithen was not penalized at work for her resisting arrest charge. But if she did indeed drive while impaired with a child in the car, there may be consequences at work, said Moon.
“This is obviously a much more serious situation you’re talking about,” said Moon.
Moon said he would have to do some more investigating before he knew what action Smithen might face.
Case workers need to be credible, said Moon. They often find themselves sitting in the witness stand during trials. If Smithen can no longer serve as a credible witness, then she can no longer fulfill the duties of her job at DSS.
Smithen has one other prior arrest in Gaston County. She was charged with assault and battery in 2008. That charge was later dismissed.
Source: Gaston Gazette
Fired the next day.
Social worker fired after driving drunk with child in car, officials say
SHELBY - A Gaston County Department of Social Services case worker was fired Tuesday morning after being charged with driving drunk while a child was in her car, officials said.
Yvette Smithen was charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Cleveland County on Saturday, said Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford.
Chief Ledford also said a young child was in Smithen's car at the time of her arrest.
Smithen had been a child protective services case worker with Gaston County for only a month, and was still within her probationary period, said Keith Moon, director of Gaston County DSS.
"Even though it's only a charge and not a conviction, we can't take any chances with this kind of situation," Moon told WBTV on Tuesday.
Moon said Smithen's job involved transporting children from time to time.
Before starting with Gaston County DSS, Moon said, Smithen had spent several years working for Mecklenburg County DSS.
Gaston County DSS conducts a thorough background check of job candidates before hiring anyone, and there were no issues with Smithen, Moon added.
Addendum: Gastonia is on a roll! Another social worker, Amanda Elizabeth Carrigan, was fired after drunk driving a few weeks later.
Gaston DSS worker fired while facing DWI charge
The Gaston County Department of Social Services has fired one of its child-support agents a week after she was cited for drunken driving.
Amanda Elizabeth Carrigan, 34, of 445 Wilson Farm Road, Gastonia, was charged with driving while impaired on Oct. 27 and terminated from her job on Nov. 4.
Police say she was driving on South Broad Street in Gastonia on Oct. 27 at 9:11 a.m. and blew 0.19 on a Breathalyzer, a device that determines the extent of alcohol impairment. The legal limit for North Carolina drivers is 0.08.
Carrigan had been employed with DSS since Aug. 11, 2008, according to Gaston County human resources director Pam Peacock.
Carrigan was involved in a wreck that led to the charge.
She was traveling on South Broad Street when her Toyota ran into the rear of a Chevrolet being driven by a Gastonia man.
The Chevrolet was headed northbound in the right lane and had stopped because of traffic.
Gastonia Police Officer Lex Popovich wrote on a citation that he smelled alcohol on Carrigan’s breath as she spoke. He also wrote that she was unstable on her feet and failed to do a one-leg stance.
Police say there was no one else traveling in the vehicle with her and they don’t know where she was headed.
She was released from police custody to a sober adult on a written promise to appear in court.
The day before the incident, Carrigan says she was prescribed Ambien, a drug used to treat insomnia. That is what caused the wreck, she said.
“It was medication that I had never taken before and caused me to black out and actually sleep drive,” she said. “I did not realize it was Ambien. It was generic form. It just had terrible side effects. Obviously it affects my life because I lost my job.”
Carrigan described the whole incident as a “travesty of justice.”
Getting her job back?
At the time Carrigan was fired, she earned $33,401.89 annually.
Her termination letter cannot be released to the public yet because she has indicated an intent to file an appeal of the firing, Peacock said.
Carrigan could appeal to the State Office of Personnel in Raleigh and eventually go before an administrative law judge to decide if her job will be reinstated.
On a petition for appeal, Carrigan claims she was discharged from her job without just cause.
“The alleged off-duty conduct for which I was discharged has no relevance to the job I performed and was in no way related to my position with the county,” Carrigan wrote in an attachment to the appeal. “There is absolutely no substantial relationship between the circumstances of the alleged off-duty misconduct and the circumstances of the position.”
Carrigan has the right to appeal the decision of her firing because she’s been employed with DSS for more than two years, Peacock said.
“We have been notified for her intent to do that,” Peacock said. “She is appealing to have our decision to terminate her overturned. And if they do that, of course we will abide by that.”
Keith Moon, director of Gaston County DSS, says he won’t comment on Carrigan’s firing at this time, since her letter of termination is being withheld.
He said child support agents function somewhat like paralegals in helping custodial parents obtain child-support payments.
“(The job) might involve the establishment of paternity or the establishment of a child-support order,” Moon said. “They assist people in getting child support from non-custodial parents. In most cases, people are paying child support routinely.”
Source: Gaston Gazette