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The Harlem parents who were arrested on charges of taking their eight children from a Forest Hills day-care center pleaded guilty Tuesday evening, the Queens district attorney’s office said.
Shanel Nadal, 28, and her boyfriend, Nephra Payne, 34, entered guilty pleas to custodial interference charges and will be sentenced Nov. 10 to 90 days in jail and three years’ probation, Queens DA Richard Brown said. Kidnapping charges were dropped as part of the plea deal, according to a spokeswoman for the DA.
“Today’s guilty plea is a just and fair disposition of this case. The defendants are held accountable for their actions and the children will be spared having to testify against their parents at trial.” Brown said in a statement.
The police spent one week chasing the parents around the East Coast after they took their seven sons, who are all named after their father, and 11-month-old daughter Nefertiti out of the Forestdale foster center at 67-35 112th St., during a supervised visit last month.
The children were removed from Payne and Nadal’s care by the city Administration for Children’s Services and placed in three different foster homes in southeast Queens before the kidnapping. Payne and Nadal contended that the foster parents were abusing the children, whose ages range from 11 months to 11 years, and they wanted them back, but ACS did not listen to their concerns.
An ACS representative said the agency took their claims seriously, but did not comment about their plea deal.
The city’s response to their pleas was not sufficient for the parents, and they enacted a plan during the Sept. 19 visit, the DA said. Nadal was with the children in the facility’s outdoor area and asked to go inside with them to get a soda, according to Forestdale’s administrators.
She then sneaked them out of a back entrance and fled with Payne in a black van, police said. The pair and the children made their way to South Carolina where they had family and eventually went back up north to Harrisburg, Pa.
Investigators tracked the fugitives through their state benefit cards and spotted Payne leaving the van, which was parked on a Harrisburg street, police said. When officers arrested Payne and Nadal Sept. 26, they found all the children inside the van living in unsanitary conditions, according to police.
The eight were using Wee Wee pads to go to the bathroom, investigators said.
ACS immediately returned the children to New York and placed them in foster homes. Their parents were extradited to Queens two weeks ago.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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