A Bronx teacher who was fired from her job after police mistakenly arrested her during a sting operation has informed the city and the NYPD that she intends to sue for $15 million. Fermina Pena, 43, was arrested after one of her fellow teachers, Sabina Deleon, bought a “stolen” iPad from undercover cops and asked her to hold it.
Deleon met with police at a McDonald’s and bought the iPad. Pena was on her way back from lunch when Deleon asked her to hold the electronic device. Once the women were back at work, police arrived and demanded that both teachers step outside where they were handcuffed and arrested.
Pena was charged with possession of stolen property and was suspended without pay. She was fired in June and then the charges against her were dismissed a month later.
“It hurt me a lot that a little boy who was waiting for his dad saw me getting arrested,” Pena said. “I didn’t know what she bought was stolen. I feel the police had me confused with someone or they should have investigated more.”
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Pena’s lawyer, Eric Sanders, said that a video from the McDonald’s clearly shows that Pena was not “acting in concert” with Deleon.
“These police stings, executed solely to generate arrest numbers, are just as intrusive and violate the U.S. Constitution just as the recently determined stop-and-frisk policy,” Sanders said. “This unfettered police activity has hurt Mrs. Pena as well as countless others.”
Deleon pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. She was fired as well, The New York Daily News reported.
Pena was hoping to return to her job but it remains to be seen whether that will happen. “I was counting the days to go back to work, I love working with children,” she said.