Romanie Pierre and Malory Pierre of Broward County, Florida were arrested Sunday after they were accused of leaving four children unattended in a car while they gambled at a casino, news sources report. Romanie, 31, and Malory, 27, were booked into the Broward County Main Jail on four counts of child neglect without great harm. A judge ordered that each of the defendants be held on a $5,000 bail bond. Reports did not say whether the defendants had hired an attorney.
According to reports, the incident occurred Sunday evening at the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach. The children involved in the incident are ages 2, 4, 5, and 8, reports say. It appears one of the women is the stepmother of the oldest child and that some of the victims are biological children of the defendants, though the full nature of the relationships was not disclosed in reports. The defendants are sisters, sources indicate.
Reports say that on Sunday, Romaine and Malory left their vehicle running with the four children inside while they went to the casino. A witness near the scene of the casino observed the children alone inside the car for nearly 30 minutes and decided to call police. Officers arrived and asked one of the older children to unlock the car door. The child complied and told police that her stepmother and her stepmother’s sister had gone inside the casino and left them in the car. It does not appear as though the children were injured as a result of their stay in the parked car. The children were placed in the temporary custody of a family member, possibly the mother of the defendants, soon after the incident.
After talking to the girl, police went inside the casino to locate the two defendants. Officers located the defendants, one of whom said they had gone into the casino to use the bathroom, reports say. The other defendant reportedly said she entered the casino to ask a question. However, a quick investigation allegedly revealed that both of the defendants had checked in at the player’s club and had been playing slots inside the casino. It is unclear just how long the defendants had been in the casino before officers arrived.
The defendants were ordered to stay away from casinos pending trial, but they will be allowed to stay in contact with the children, sources say. “It’s inappropriate behavior, there’s no doubt about it… there’s just a part of me that says it may be going too far to keep them away from the children,” the judge reportedly stated when making the decision. “Hopefully these two have been scared and have been put in jail and maybe shocked into coming to their senses that what they have allegedly done is extremely poor judgment and I’m not going to take their kids away.”
So far, it remains unclear whether the Department of Children and Families is investigating the incident. It also remains to be seen if the arrests will play any role over the defendants’ custody of the four children.