New York Daily News
An NYPD sergeant arrested for shoplifting in a Yonkers Macy’s is suing the department store giant, claiming security guards falsely arrested her and ruined her career.
In a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, Sgt. Eva Pena says she was a “loyal longtime customer” of Macy’s until Sept. 3, 2019, when store security and Yonkers police “falsely arrested her and is maliciously prosecuting her without having observed a crime committed in their presence.”
Pena was accused of stealing $359 worth of Guess and Tommy Hilfiger clothes from the Macy’s in the Cross County Shopping Center.
She claims in court papers she was targeted by store security guards because she is Dominican and that, although a store security guard followed her around the store and into both the changing rooms and bathrooms, no one ever saw her commit a crime.
Macy’s Asset Protection Officer Samantha Newton-Henry said during Pena’s department trial in July that she never saw Pena take the clothing that was later found in the cop’s bag, court documents cite. Nor was the theft caught on video.
But Newton-Henry testified she followed Pena around the store after her colleagues suspected the mother of three of shoplifting. She claimed after following Pena into the ladies room she found clothing tags floating inside a toilet bowl when Pena walked out.
Newton-Henry also claimed Pena signed a confession.
Pena has accused the store’s asset protection staff of framing her, trying to shake her down and forging her signature on the confession.
“They said, ‘We’re going to count how many items there are and multiply it by five. You pay us that amount, we’ll open up the door and go home, no one would ever find out.’ I said, ‘Do yourself a favor and call the cops,’” Pena told the Daily News following her NYPD disciplinary proceeding.
The shakedown allegations are not mentioned in Pena’s lawsuit. The criminal case against her is still pending in Westchester Criminal Court.
As the result of her arrest, Pena, an NYPD public housing sergeant, was stripped of her gun and shield and the department “failed to promote her to the position of lieutenant,” the lawsuit noted. The NYPD’s Department Advocate’s office wants to fire Pena for shoplifting and lying to her bosses. The ruling of the judge in the departmental trial has not yet been released.
Pena’s departmental trial got off to a rocky start when prosecutors nixed plans for an NYPD analyst to testify the sergeant’s signature on the shoplifting confession provided by the department store was legit.
The planned testimony was canceled after a subordinate claimed in a lawsuit that she reviewed the handwriting analysis and came to the conclusion the signature was a “possible” match. Her boss tried to bully her into saying it was a definitive match, part of a pattern of bullying in the NYPD’s questioned documents unit, the suit claims.
Sanders, who cited cases in which Macy’s was accused of racial profiling in the lawsuit, said that his client had a Macy’s credit card and about $1,000 in her wallet when she was arrested.
“Why would she steal something? It makes zero sense,” he said.
The New York State attorney general’s office accused Macy’s of racial profiling in 2005 after learning that more people of color were being stopped and accused of shoplifting than whites, the lawsuit states. Macy’s denied any wrongdoing but that same year singed a memorandum agreement “to resolve matters” stemming from the attorney general’s investigation.
In 2014, following another investigation into racial profiling by the attorney general’s office, this time involving Macy’s flagship store in Midtown, the retail company agreed to pay $650,000 to settle the AG’s lawsuit, although they again did not admit or deny the findings in the 37-page settlement.
Macy’s declined to comment on Pena’s suit.