A Romanian husband and wife who allegedly begged for cash while using dirty, shoeless children as sympathy props have been charged with multiple felonies and has at least temporarily lost custody of their four children.
Cristian Andrei Ducila, 24, and Luiza Badea, 21, most recently of Lovington, were each charged with four third-degree felony counts of abandonment or abuse of a child after police say their children — ages 1, 3, and 4 years old, and a 3-week-old baby — were found outside a retail parking lot dirty, red in the face from the summer heat, and wearing no shoes.
Hobbs police responded at about 4:45 p.m. June 3 to the parking lot of a major retailer in the 3800 block of North Lovington Highway, where police say the couple and their four young children had set up on the rocks, near the entrance of the store. Police said an officer had responded to the couple at the location about five hours earlier, advising them to step back from the busy Joe Harvey Boulevard, at which time the couple reportedly said they would leave the area.
Ducila, who police said was later found with hundreds of dollars in his wallet, was reportedly holding a sign that stated “NEED FORMULA, FOOD, AND GAS MONEY.”
Police said Ducila, born in Romania, told them in broken English he needed to get back to Houston, and that he had no money, food or baby formula.
Police said the 3-week-old baby was wrapped in a blanket while sitting in a car seat while the temperature was 91 degrees. Police said when they informed Ducila that the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department would be contacted for the safety and welfare of the children, Ducila walked police to a 2005 light blue van, which he said he owned.
Police said baby formula, food, drinks and snacks were found in the van, which police said was not out of gasoline.
A CYFD case worker responded and interviewed the family. Police said the family was unable to show proof of residence, proof of housing for the children, or proof of clothing, food and safety for the children. The CYFD caseworker told Ducila the children would be in CYFD custody for a 48-hour hold.
“Cristian became upset and pulled out his wallet from his back pocket,” states the criminal complaint against the married couple. “Inside the wallet, he showed officers and (the caseworker) he had more than $300 after stating he had no money and had to beg for money and food. Due to Cristian having the ability to provide adequate shelter and care for his children but did not, the children were released to CYFD.”
Police said when they placed the children in car seats to be taken by CYFD, their medical conditions became more apparent.
“Officers observed the infant to have diaper rash and rashes in the creases of her arms and legs,” states the criminal complaint. “(Another child) showed to have neglected dental hygiene and all the children had no shoes and dirty clothes.”
Police said the caseworker provided Badea information on CYFD, but she threw the paper out of the van’s window. Police said Ducila and Badea were told to report to a local CYFD office the following day.
Police said further examination of the children at a clinic in Hobbs on June 11 found serious medical issues with the children.
The 3-year-week girl was diagnosed with thrush in the mouth, severe diaper rash and dehydration, according to police reports.
The 1-year-old girl was diagnosed with decay of the teeth, a urinary tract infection and a first-degree sunburn.
The 3-year-old boy was also diagnosed with severe tooth decay.
The 4-year-old girl was also diagnosed with tooth decay and superficial abrasions on her cheek.
“The children were given antibiotics, released back to CYFD and were instructed to have limited time in the sun,” states the criminal complaint.
The caseworker said she informed Ducila and Badea about the medical care the children received. The couple said they had not provided any type of medical care for their children and that they had no concerns for their health.
The couple’s van was impounded and searched by police. Police said the van is not registered to Ducila and therefore the towing company would not release the van to Ducila without permission from the van’s owner, in addition to a $500 fee.
Ducila reportedly changed his story and said the van was his uncle’s, and that he did not want to call his uncle. He also reportedly said he had enough money to buy a new vehicle.
“Due to the information Cristian provided (the caseworker) in regards to finances, it was determined Cristian and Luiza negligently disregarded the health, well-being, and safety of the children by not providing housing or medical treatment for their children when they had the means to do so,” states the criminal complaint.
Warrants for the arrests of Ducila and Badea were issued June 12, charging each of them with four counts of abandonment or abuse of a child, third-degree felonies that each carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. They were both arrested June 12 by Hobbs patrol officers.
Ducila and Badea had their first appearances in court on June 13, with preliminary examinations scheduled for July 24 in Hobbs Magistrate Court.
Badea was charged June 5 in Lovington Magistrate Court with three counts of conspiracy to commit unlawful use or theft of an ATM or debit card, three counts of conspiracy to commit forgery, and three counts of conspiracy to commit theft of identity. All nine fourth-degree felony counts were dismissed on June 11 by the prosecutor without prejudice, meaning the charges could be refiled.