CSEA mourns Westchester County Unit member Maria Coto


Coto (Photo provided)

Senior caseworker murdered while conducting visit in Peekskill

PEEKSKILL – Our union is mourning the death of Westchester County Unit member Maria Coto, 56, who died June 19 from injuries sustained when a resident brutally attacked her on May 14 while she was working in the Peekskill community.

Coto was conducting a visit as part of her job as a senior caseworker for the county Department of Social Services when, according to reports, she approached the wrong door and the apartment’s occupant chased her into another apartment where he viciously assaulted her. The attack left Coto with a severe brain bleed, swelling of the brain and multiple facial fractures.

Peekskill police initially charged the assailant, Hasseem Jenkins, with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault. As this edition went to press, representatives from the Westchester County District Attorney’s office were expected to announce upgraded charges.

Coto’s murder has left our union family reeling and has highlighted the risks CSEA members face while providing essential services in communities across the state.

“Maria Coto’s life was cut short in a senseless and vicious attack simply because she was doing her job,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan. “Her loss is felt throughout CSEA and shall serve as a solemn reminder of how we need to continue to fight for worker safety. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Maria’s family and loved ones.”

“Maria Coto needlessly died while she was doing what she had devoted her career to – helping people in need,” said Southern Region President Anthony Adamo. “This tragedy is devastating for her loved ones and co-workers. It’s also resonated with other CSEA members across the state who are also caseworkers aiding residents of our communities.”

Westchester County Local President Hattie Adams, who also serves as county unit president, noted that she and other CSEA representatives have been in regular contact with county leaders to address workplace security for caseworkers. In early June, Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced that the county had expanded its existing program of providing security escorts for community and home visits.

“We are devastated by the passing of Maria Coto,” said Adams. “We will in her memory continue to be committed to do everything possible in conjunction with the Westchester County Executive’s office to educate and to assure our membership is safe while working to service the community. Our condolences go out to her CSEA family, co-workers, friends and family during this difficult time.”

Jessica Ladlee


About Author

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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