Investigations

Exclusive: Kids returned to mom after false drug arrest

Thursday, June 27, 2013

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.

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Tags:
drug arrest, wrongly accused, investigations, sarah wallace
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