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Mother Innocent, Children Gone
June 16, 2013 permalink
When Elizabeth Pineda was arrested on a drug charge New York ACS took her children into foster care. But two months later when the charges were dismissed, ACS held onto the children like a pitbull. Pineda remains on the New York State Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.
Woman sues New York City over false drug arrest
NEW YORK (WABC) -- A hard-working single-mother from Queens is suing the city for $50 million dollars, claiming she was falsely arrested on drug charges.
Those criminal charges have been dismissed, but her kids were taken away, and she still doesn't have them back.
It's a pretty astounding story. The mom was arrested on drug possession charges, but she wasn't even in the house at the time the drugs were allegedly found. Bail was set at one million dollars and she spent two weeks on Rikers Island. The worst part, she says, is being separated from her kids, who were ordered into foster care.
"How are you going to charge me with possession when I wasn't even in Queens. I was in Long Island," Elizabeth Pineda said.
Pineda's nightmare started when she took her 11-year-old daughter and other girls to an afternoon birthday party on April 2nd. The single mom, who lives in Middle Village, Queens, left her two younger kids with a family friend, a handyman, who worked in an apartment building in Forest Hills. Samuel Rodriguez lived in the basement.
"The kids get along with him, so I asked him as a favor, can you just watch them for two or three hours. And those 2-3 hours my life just did a 360," she said.
She says she had no idea he was dealing drugs.
Rodrriquez left the kids in the apartment and went outside to allegedly make a drug deal. That's when he was nabbed and detectives called Pineda.
She says when she got to the apartment, detectives showed her drugs they claimed to have found there. But it wasn't until she got to court, that she learned she'd been charged.
"My whole world just came down because I had 14-15-charges. I wasn't even there, then I get remanded. I go to jail for two weeks.
And they took away her children.
"At the beginning, I was not able to talk to or see them, nothing," Pineda said.
Because in the criminal complaint, a narcotics cop named Vincent Esposito swore that Pineda told him she had lived in that basement apartment where the drugs were found: "Defendant provided the above mentioned location as her residence."
"Every physical evidence shows that he lied," attorney Marvyn Kornberg said.
Pineda's lawyer presented bills, even her license that show she and her children live in a complex in Middle Village.
The District Attorney's office finally agreed to dismiss all of the criminal charges on Wednesday.
"People see the accusations and think where there's smoke, there's fire. It's going to be difficult to get her reputation back, if ever," attorney Barry Goldstein said.
Pineda lawyers filed a $50 million dollar lawsuit on Thursday.
"A horrible mother. That's how I felt," she said.
Her children are still in foster care, but they are at least are now staying with a grandmother.
Pineda will be in family court on Monday hoping a judge will order that her kids be given back to her. She also has to appeal to get off the New York State Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.
Source: WABC New York
Addendum: A week later the children are returned, legal accusations against the mother are still pending.
Exclusive: Kids returned to mom after false drug arrest
MIDDLE VILLAGE, Queens (WABC) -- A Queens mother was reunited with her children taken away from her after she was hit with false drug charges.
Last week, Eyewitness News reported on how those criminal charges were dismissed, and now the family is back together.
But, the mother's battle to clear her name is not yet over.
Being home with mom is now extra special for Elizabeth Pineda's three children. They were taken from their mother and put in foster care with a relative back in April after the 31-year-old was charged with drug possession, and locked up on Rikers Island for two weeks.
"I didn't deserve to be in jail, I didn't deserve to lose my kids especially," Elizabeth Pineda said.
"When I went to see her I started crying," said Karina Pineda, Elizabeth's daughter.
For Karina's 11th birthday, Pineda took her oldest daughter, to celebrate with some other girls at a party center on Long Island.
She asked a family friend, a handyman, who lived in the basement of the Forest Hills apartment, to watch 5-year-old Kenny, and 4-year-old Mia.
He left them alone, allegedly to make a drug deal on the street and was nabbed by cops.
"I left them babysitting with someone else. He made a mistake and he left them alone," Elizabeth Pineda said.
Pineda was arrested at the 104th precinct when a narcotics detective, Vincent Esposito, claimed she said she lived in the Forest Hills apartment where drugs were found.
"He lied, he lied about everything," Elizabeth Pineda said, "ACS determined I was guilty of neglect just because he said I live someplace where I don't live."
Pineda says the worst part was the embarrassment after her arrest.
The parents of Karina's birthday friends had to pick them up at the 104th precinct.
"What were they telling parents?" Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace asked.
"Pretty much I was a drug dealer," Elizabeth Pineda said.
Eyewitness News was there when the criminal charges were dismissed.
Pineda's lawyer proved she and the kids live in Middle Village.
And now, the kids are back home.
"It's much better right now," Karina Pineda said.
But Elizabeth Pineda's legal battle is not totally over. She still has to fight a neglect charge in family court. She is suing the city over the entire ordeal.
Source: ABC News