Modern Slavery: Massapequa Style

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On July 6, 2005, Lontaine Sheridan’s final blow left Cindy Carter, 31, with a back and left foot injury for which she now has to rely on a cane to get around.  Carter is a Black woman who worked as a nanny and was pummeled by her white massa's wife. This sounds like a sequel to an eighteenth-century movie?

Someone forgot to tell a pair of well-to-do homeowners in Massapequa Park that slavery was abolished. Donald and Fontaine Sheridan live in Bar Harbor – an enclosed Long Island area where both sides of the street are lined with big houses, trimmed front lawns, nurses and nannies to boot, no pun intended.

Carter, after receiving a one-year working visa from Barbados, came to the United States by way of Florida, then traveled to Aspen, Colorado on a Greyhound bus for a job at The Little Nell Hotel, which was contracted to her and a few other Barbadians—that’s another story in itself.  However, Carter had to leave Colorado and ended up at an uncle’s house in Brooklyn.

She went to Plaza Domestic, an agency located in Manhattan and landed an interview for a, nanny position in the Sheridan’s home. Her visa is now expired. “Mr. Sheridan told me he did not want anyone to work for him with papers because it was too much paperwork for him and he said not to talk about the money,� Carter tells me. She was paid $300 a week to work from 5 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. from Monday through Friday, and 5 A.M. to 12 noon on Saturday. What a hookup for the Sheridan’s. Approximately 92-hours of employment for only $300 – that’s criminal.

While making a little more than $3 an hour, Carter’s duties were to care for three small boys, Trevor, aged seven three-year-old twins, Blake and Owen. “She began hitting me from the time I started working at the house,� Carter tells me, referring to Fontaine Sheridan. “I needed the job, so I would be able to send money home to my mother.�
In addition to taking care of the children, Carter had to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. She also cleaned, she also fed the cat and dog, she did the laundry, ran errands, and cared for Fontaine’s sick mother, Stella Follansbee, after the nurse left at 6 P.M.

Mr. Sheridan (or Massa Sheridan?) works in the technology department at Swiss bank UBS. He should know better than to cheat Carter out of a living wage while also avoiding paying taxes to the government. (A similar case to Carter’s was that of ex-NYPD chief Bernard B. Kerik, briefly selected by George W. for the Homeland Security post. Kerik had to withdraw his name citing shabby records about taxes for his nanny. Many believe larger skeletons were about to appear, including links to the Mafia now being investigated).

There are a lot of concerned churches and groups following Carter’s case.  “Stand Up Ministry,â€? headed by Deacon Tim Butler, has staged four protests to expose the injustice Carter has faced. “We conducted two protests at the Sheridan’s home,â€? he tells me, including another held today, November 19th.  “We did one at the court house in Nassau on Old Country Road, and one in front of Donald Sheridan’s job in Manhattan.â€?

“Sheridan knew about the times his wife beat me, but would defend her by saying – ‘She suffers from Premenstrual Syndrome which is the reason why she attacks,’â€? Carter tells me, and adds, “he was just making excuses for his wife’s hatred.â€? 

What kind of people are these? Well hear it from Carter herself: “I never had a lunch break or any time to myself.  Christmas Day was the only time I got off.  Mrs. Sheridan said the holidays were not for me because I was not an American citizen…Mr. Sheridan gave me the 4th of July off and Mrs. Sheridan got mad because she had to take care of the children herself. On my day off, Mrs. Sheridan would bring the children to my apartment and Mr. Sheridan would give me $10 sometimes.â€?

This past July 6th, Carter finally pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911 for help as she lay on the driveway of the Sheridan’s home after enduring another attack by Mrs. Sheridan. “Get off my property you stupid nigger,� Mrs. Sheridan had yelled as she pummeled her, Carter recalls. Carter would soon learn how the “Criminal Justice System� works in America. “When the police arrived, I was still a little confused because when Mrs. Sheridan pushed me I fell and hit my head – everything went black. A policeman walked over to me and I asked him to arrest Mrs. Sheridan,� Carter tells me.

Officers Dwyer and Gallean were on the scene. “Officer Dwyer told me to get up and put on my shoe if I wanted him to listen to me,� Carter continues. “I was in a lot of pain, my foot was bleeding, and I did what he told me to do. He listened to me for about a minute and walked over to speak with Mrs. Sheridan – who told him, ‘She is illegal, and I want her off my property.’ Officer Dwyer had nothing else to say to me, he would just say, ‘She wants you off the property,’ and tried to make me sign something saying I did not want Mrs. Sheridan arrested. I did not sign anything.�

The next day, Carter called 911 from her Massapequa apartment, which is walking distance from the Sheridan’s home. “Officer Dwyer arrived at my house and said, he did not realize I was injured so seriously. He said, before I could go to the hospital he had to make out a report and I had to tell him the story all over again. He said that he made two mistakes and I had to initial them. He refused to let me read the report and kept his hand on the paper so I couldn’t read it. After I did it, he called for an ambulance,� Carter tells me. Carter was taken to New Island Hospital in Bethpage by ambulance and treated in the emergency room where x-rays showed swelling and bleeding under the skin of her back and swelling of the left leg and foot. Mrs. Sheridan was arrested on July 9th, three days after this Hate Crime was committed.

Lontaine Sheridan would always tell Carter not to tell anyone about the beatings in her house because, as she recalls, “‘No one’s going to listen to you – you’re an immigrant.  I’m an upstanding citizen of Massapequa.’â€?  But the Massa’s wife made a mistake. The July 6th attack was witnessed.

Nurse Wright, who took care of Mrs. Sheridan’s mother, as well as Mrs. Sheridan’s mother herself and son Trevor saw the attack. “Lontaine’s oldest son Trevor was crying saying, ‘No mommy, don’t hurt Cindy,’� Carter recalls.

This woman was more than a nanny to the Sheridans. “I love those boys,â€? she tells me. “I gave the twins their first bath.  I took good care of her family. I took good care of her house. I did nothing to be treated this way.â€? The federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 (Public Law 102-275 April 23, 1990) encourages states to report hate crime data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Nassau District Attorney’s Office, has yet to charge Lontaine Sheridan for a Hate Crime.

Assistance District Attorney Michael Canty charged Sheridan only with assault in the third degree. The charge was plea-bargained to harassment, which is a violation and carries a lesser penalty.  “He told me he was prosecuting the case for the People of the State of New York, and he could not charge Mrs. Sheridan with a Hate Crime because she was my employer and he was only letting me know what was going on as a courtesy,â€? Carter tells me, referring to DA Canty. “The DA said, ‘I could put on a good show in front of the jury, but I do not think a jury would find Lontaine Sheridan guilty.’  I cried because that wasn’t right.  He said, because I had no broken bones that was all he could charge Mrs. Sheridan with.â€? 

When I asked why the District Attorney’s Office downgraded Lontaine Sheridan’s charges, Nassau County Deputy Bureau Chief, Pamela Pincus said: “She was charged with assault when we met with Cindy over a course of a few months.  We met with her lawyer (Tony Lou) and based upon the facts and circumstances and her desire to see that the case was ended with the proper and just conclusion, we offered her a plea to harassment – wavier of feelings, community service and that’s what was done.â€?

Say what? Pamela Pincus, what about the fact that Carter’s request to have Sheridan arrested on the day of the last beating?: “The incident happened on July 6th, the arrest was made on July 9th.  We originally  … There was an indication that Cindy did not want an arrest to be made.â€? Carter says that’s flat out not true. Pincus adds that the matters still under investigation.

Carter’s attorney Tony Lou, from the Urban Justice Center, has filed a Civil Law suit, demanding a jury trial, in Brooklyn.  The case has now been kicked over to Central Islip to be heard in Long Island. Will this move prejudice Carter’s case?  “Obviously we are concerned about having the jury drawn from Long Island. We’ll have to address that,â€? Lou notes.

There are a lot of legal problems with this case from when the Nassau Police arrived at the scene, when an arrest was made and how the arrest was handled. The Black Star News will continue to follow this story and report to you our readers.

If you have any comments contact Winkfield or for his consideration regarding covering your own story. If you would like to help Carter in any way write to or call (212) 481-7745. Last Sunday, The New York Daily News published my comments about a major scandal about Sexual harassment involving Norman Seabrook at NYC Correction Department.  Write to me: On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423 or email:  Together we can get the justice everyone just talks about.

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