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Illegal SoHo day care probe: Did health inspector drop ball last fall?

Reports: NYC inspector closed looksee of illegal day care complaint after one visit.

Karl Towndrow.

gofundme.com/karltowndrow

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office and the city's Department of Investigation want to know if a city health inspector dropped the ball when looking into a complaint of an illegal SoHo day care, where little Karl Towndrow died Monday.

The Department of Health had received a complaint last November aboutSoHo Child Care at 69 Greene St., run by Maryellen Strautmanis, 53.

ABC7 reports:

An inspector visited the site, but no one answered the door at the non-descript second-floor landing. The inspector noted no sign of child care activity at the building's entrance, and a person at a first-floor business denied seeing any child care activity. The inspector deemed the complaint unsubstantiated.

The inspector "spoke to the businesses on the ground floor who denied seeing any activity," a DOH spokesman told the hyperlocal website, DNAinfo.

Strautmanis, officials now say, has been operating the day care for 14 years, had a write-up in The Times and made no apparent attempt to conceal its identity, DNA reports.

"What kind of inspection was done here, when there is a business operating for 14 years without a license?" a law enforcement source told the news site."You can likely show up in the morning and late afternoon and see parents dropping off and picking up their children."

The cause of death for 3-month-old baby Karl has yet to be determined. It was his first day at the day care. His mom dropped him off in the morning.

Friends have started a GoFundMe campaign for the heartbroken family. As of Thursday morning, nearly $55,000 had been raised.

The website says:

Karl was beloved by his parents, who doted on him every moment. He was their joy and brought happiness to everyone who met him.

His family and friends are grieving but are taking comfort in knowing they knew this sweet, innocent soul, even if it was all too brief.

In an effort to help his parents, given the unexpected and significant expenses they are now facing, we are launching this campaign in Karl's memory. The funds will go towards any funeral expenses and support for the family.

Karl's family would like to thank everyone who has offered their condolences and is offering support duringthis painful time.

John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter@nyc_oz.
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