Burlington woman charged with child cruelty

By  | 

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) It was another sign of Vermont's drug epidemic, as police responded Sunday to a call for a mom passed out behind the wheel. Authorities say Amber Fusco's toddler was unsupervised in the backseat. They did not say if she and her friend were smoking crack in the confined car with the child in the back, but they certainly found evidence of IV drug use.

The Burlington mother is accused of neglecting her toddler and endangering the little girl's health.

The incident unfolded Sunday afternoon. Just before 3 South Burlington Police responded to the South Burlington Hannaford supermarket parking lot after a concerned shopper called 911. In a statement he told police:

"I pulled into a parking spot. I noticed the car to my left had two women in the front seats completely slumped over and a child in a car seat in the back seat. I said, 'Excuse me. Then louder: 'Excuse me.' Neither adults responded. The little girl looked and I waved to her. She waved back."

Investigators say 29-year-old Amber Fusco was in the driver's seat. She was alert when they arrived. Her female passenger was taken to the hospital. Inside the car police allegedly found an uncapped needle next to the driver's seat, a pipe for smoking crack cocaine in Fusco's purse, white powder, another pipe, and a drug kit on the passenger side floor.

Investigators say Fusco left her 2-year-old daughter in the car with her high friend while she went inside the store to buy booze. But she lied to police, telling them she brought the toddler along.

"Is she currently in treatment?" asked Vt. Superior Court Judge Kirstin Schoonover.

"She tells me she has treatment, providers and is seeing them now. I don't have all the details because of the short amount of time we had before the hearing," said Lucas Collins, Fusco's lawyer.

One week before this incident, the same police department arrested Fusco for driving with a suspended license.

She also has a lengthy criminal record -- convictions for eight misdemeanors, and two assaults. She's violated parole three times and has missed three court dates. In June she and a wanted fugitive were arrested for allegedly beating a man inside her apartment in front of Fusco's litle girl.

After this latest incident, the state wanted a judge to keep Fusco from seeing her daughter. The judge left it up to family court.

"There is a hearing downstairs that will address the kind of contact, and what kind of parent child relationship will exist," Collins said.

That family court hearing was closed to the public. And due to a mix-up in criminal court during the video arraignment, Fusco never entered a plea. The judge let her go on conditions that she not use drugs or harass her child. She has to follow family court orders and undergo a mental health assessment.