Police: Unlicensed Day Care Linked to Child Death Was Run by Theft Suspect

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- A Johnston woman who is accused, along with her husband, of stealing more than $163,000 from one of their parents – a dependent adult – has also been charged with operating an unlicensed daycare after a child found unresponsive there died earlier this month.

After an inquiry by Channel 13, the Johnston Police Department confirmed Wednesday that the violation was discovered after a child who was in 47-year-old Trina Mazza's care was found unresponsive on Feb. 15th, then later died.

A criminal complaint in the case says on Feb. 15th the Johnston Police Department discovered Mazza was providing in-home daycare services to seven children that were not her own. The complaint also says DHS had received complaints in 2011 and 2017 that Mazza had been operating an unlicensed daycare and had notified her both times that un-registered in-home providers cannot look after more than five children at a time.

The name and cause of death for the child has not been released. The death is still being investigated.

Mazza and her husband, 49-year-old Michael Mazza, were arrested Tuesday. They are facing several charges connected to alleged abuse of Michael’s dependent adult mother.

Court documents show the investigation began in November of 2018 after the victim was notified by her bank about suspicious checks that had been written from her account. The checks included $12,000 for a new roof at the Johnston home of her son and daughter-in-law, and $6,000 in payments to credit cards from Victoria’s Secret and Scheels.

The victim said those payments were unauthorized and that Trina Mazza had been paying her bills and hiring in-home care services for her because she was “foggy.”

The alleged theft happened between August and November of 2018 and more than $163,000 was taken from the victim’s accounts.

The couple was arrested Tuesday and made their jail court appearances Wednesday morning. They are facing four charges each of dependent adult abuse, first degree theft, and forgery.

The pair has bonded out of jail and preliminary hearings in their case are scheduled for March 8th.

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