NYC Mom Sues Over Bogus Drug Arrest

By McCarton Ackerman 06/14/13

Elizabeth Pineda is suing the city for $50 million after spending two weeks in prison and having her kids taken away.

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Pineda's life was turned upside-down.
Photo via

A single mother from Queens is suing the city for $50 million over her bogus drug arrest after the District Attorney's Office dropped all criminal charges against her on Wednesday. Elizabeth Pineda left two of her children with a family friend, Samuel Rodriguez, for a few hours, unaware that he was dealing drugs. Rodriguez left the children in the apartment and went outside to allegedly make a drug deal, where he was busted by police. Pineda was later arrested for drug possession despite not present for the drug deal. "How are you going to charge me with possession when I wasn't even in Queens? I was in Long Island," she says. "Those two to three hours, my life just did a 360. My whole world just came down because I had 14-15-charges." In addition to spending two weeks on Rikers Island and having bail set at $1 million, her children were taken from her and placed in foster care. Narcotics cop Vincent Esposito claimed in the criminal complaint that Pineda said she lived in the basement apartment where the drugs were found, but her lawyer presented bills and a driver's license to prove she lived elsewhere. "Every physical evidence shows that he lied," her attorney says. Pineda's children are still in foster care—she will appear in court on Monday in the hopes her children to be returned to her; then she will still need to appeal to remove herself from the New York State Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.