The Manhattan couple accused of abducting their eight children from foster care entered a plea deal in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday and will no longer be tried on kidnapping and endangerment charges.
Under the deal, Nephra Payne and Shanel Nadal admitted to custodial interference. In return, they will each serve three months in jail and then be on three years of probation.
They will be sentenced on November 10. After counting the time they have already served, they are expected to serve only 35 more days in jail.
"It wasn't kidnapping, there was no violence, it was not custodial interference in the first degree and there was no endangering of the welfare of the child," said defense attorney Norman Steiner.
The couple originally faced 200 years in prison, after being arrested in Harrisburg, Pa. late last month, a week after they took their children from the Forestdale foster care agency in Forest Hills.
The children, seven boys and one girl ranging in age from 11 years to just under one year, were found with the two defendants.
Payne and Nadal say they went to Pennsylvania to protect the children from abuse in their foster homes.
"The Paynes were under the impression, and the rightful impression, that the children were not being properly treated in foster care and they did the best to insure the safety of their children, which required them to take their children out of foster care," said Steiner.
The Administration for Children's Services is investigating the abuse allegation.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Payne and Nadel put their children at risk.
"It's really a very serious matter. They took these kids and marched them all over the eastern seaboard. They could've been hurt badly," said Brown.
The defendants originally lost custody of the children amid allegations of abuse.
For now, an order of protection remains in effect, preventing the couple from seeing the children.