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Deputies: Palm Harbor dad didn't tell doctors 3-month-old had suffered head injury

PALM HARBOR — Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies arrested Tuesday the father of a 3-month-old boy after investigators said he didn't inform doctors the baby had suffered a head injury.

Joseph Lusardi, 24, faces a child neglect charge. According to the Sheriff's Office, Lusardi called 911 Oct. 20 because the child was showing seizure-like symptoms. The baby was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital and released the next day after getting treated for what doctors thought was acid reflux.

On Oct. 22, the baby's mom, Bethany Valenti-Drake, took the boy to After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care in Palm Harbor because he was vomiting and eating abnormally, deputies said. She then took the child back to the hospital at the advice of doctors.

The next day, Lusardi told Valenti-Drake, 19, the child had fallen off a table while strapped into a car seat on Oct. 20. The child's mother told hospital staff, who ordered a CT scan, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Doctors said the child had brain hemorrhage and a skull fracture. He was taken to John Hopkins All Children's Hospital for further treatment and remained there as of Tuesday night.

Deputies interviewed Lusardi Oct. 25 then arrested him Tuesday night. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he remained Wednesday morning in lieu of no bail.

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