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Fla. Counselor Had License Suspended

July 28, 2002

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MIAMI (AP) _ A Department of Children & Families counselor who was fired for driving drunk with a baby in the back seat previously had her license suspended for impaired driving.

Mirla Pronga, 56, fell asleep in her car Thursday while she was intoxicated in suburban Coral Gables, police said. Officers found the car idling in the middle of the road _ and a 7-month-old girl crying in her car seat, he said.

Pronga, a caseworker whose job was to transport children, was charged with driving under the influence and felony child neglect. The Department fired her. She was released on $12,000 bail.

Pronga’s telephone number is not published. Information on her lawyer was not immediately available.

In 1993, Pronga was arrested and charged for driving under the influence and had her license suspended, criminal records show.

Charles Auslander, the Department’s Miami administrator, said they were unaware of Pronga’s previous arrest. He said he was told by administrators that Pronga did not have any duty to report her prior arrest.

Pronga had taken the child from her foster home Thursday to visit the baby’s natural mother, department spokesman Miguel Milanes said. Pronga never arrived and the woman called police.

The girl was returned to her foster parents.

``The fact that this woman’s license was suspended long ago and she’s driving at work is unbelievable. Employers have a responsibility to make sure workers like that are not on the road,″ Children’s Advocacy Foundation President Karen Gievers said.

The department has been in the spotlight since 5-year-old Rilya Wilson disappeared after caseworkers failed to visit her Miami foster home for 15 months.

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