The parents who pled guilty to taking their eight children from a Queens foster care center walked free Wednesday following their sentencing. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
Shanel Nadal and Nephra Payne were set free Wednesday after spending 60 days in jail. They were sentenced to time served and released as part of a plea deal with the Queens district attorney's office.
“I’m happy that we're going home. Hopefully we can get our babies home,” said Nadal.
The couple was accused of kidnapping their eight children from foster care, but that charge was lowered to custodial interference as part of the deal.
On September 19, Nadal and Payne took the children from the Forestdale Child Agency in Forest Hills during a supervised visit.
“The initial charges were overcharged and there was no kidnapping. These were just two parents who were seeking to have the best interest of the children served,” said defense attorney Norman Steiner.
After taking the seven boys and their sister from Forestdale, Payne and Nadal fled to Pennsylvania, where they were all found living in a van in Harrisburg.
The couple said they took the children because they believe they were being sexually and physically abused in foster care.
“We documented it thoroughly on the abuse and we just pretty much got tired because we weren't getting no help from ACS or the courts or Forestdale,” said Nadal.
The Administration for Children's Services disputes the abuse allegations.
As for the plea deal, the couple also received three years probation and an order of protection to stay away from their children for five years unless they are granted visitation or custody.
The children, who range in age from 11 months to 11 years, are back in foster care. Their parents are fighting to regain custody.
“Everything we can do,” said Payne. “It’s definitely our top priority.”
“That’s what it was all about,” added Nadal.
“There are already actions on the way in family court to reunite the Paynes with their children, starting with visitation once again,” said Steiner.
The case now moves to family court on December 15.