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Charges to be dropped in fire station baby case

Image: Klever Sailema, Maria Siavichay,
Cab driver Klever Sailema, far left, and his girlfriend, Maria Siavichay, center right, talk in March about their roles in the abandonment of a baby. Closest to camera is attorney Kevin Faga. Speaking for the pair is Fernando Mateo, far right, president of Hispanic Across America. Craig Ruttle / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A livery driver, hailed as a hero then charged as a criminal for leaving a baby girl at a firehouse, will have his case dismissed if he stays out of trouble for the next six months, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Klever Sailema made headlines after he took 6-month-old Daniella to the Queens firehouse in February.

He initially told investigators that a nervous-looking man got into his cab carrying the baby and a diaper bag, then disappeared after asking him to pull over so he could make a phone call.

Sailema, 44, provided enough detail that police released a sketch of the suspect. He repeated his tale to reporters at a news conference.

Two days later, police declared Sailema had made it up and had plotted with his girlfriend —Daniella's aunt — to get rid of the baby. The baby's mother is a 14-year-old runaway from Baltimore, officials said.

Cab driver charged
Sailema was charged with falsely reporting an incident and criminal facilitation. His girlfriend, Maria Siavichay, was charged with criminal facilitation.

Attorneys for the couple implored the district attorney's office to drop the charges because they said they were only trying to help the baby.

Prosecutors have now agreed, saying charges will be dismissed at an October court hearing if the couple stay out of trouble until then.

"The defendants did have the child's best interests at heart when they brought her safely to a firehouse. They just went about it in the wrong way," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Siavichay said the baby's father, Carlos Rodas, told her he couldn't cope with the little girl; she then asked Sailema to take Daniella to the firehouse.

Safe haven law for newborns
A state safe haven law allows parents unable to care for newborns to leave them anonymously at hospitals, police stations or firehouses without risking prosecution, but it applies only to children up to 5 days old.

Police said Wednesday that Rodas, 27, is still being sought and might face a statutory rape charge because of the mother's age.

Sailema said he felt he was saving Daniella from a harsher fate and made up the story to protect his girlfriend from questions about her immigration status.

"Everything was falling on my responsibility, on my shoulders," Sailema said. "I only thought about the child."

Sailema, who's originally from Ecuador, apologized "for making up something that didn't exist."

The baby and her teen mother, whose name has not been released, went back to Maryland. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Social Services has said decisions have been made for their well being. But she wouldn't say whether the baby and mother are together.