Press Releases

Ann Pettway Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 12 Years In Prison For The 1987 Kidnapping Of An Infant From Harlem Hospital

Monday July 30, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANNUGETTA PETTWAY, a/k/a “Ann Pettway,” was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for the 1987 abduction of a 19-day-old infant from Harlem Hospital.  PETTWAY pled guilty in February 2012 to one count of kidnapping.  She was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Exactly 25 years ago, Ann Pettway snatched an ailing newborn from a hospital, and with that kidnapping she shattered three lives – the life of the child who would not know her parents, and the lives of her parents who were left to wonder what had become of their baby.  While this sentence certainly cannot compensate them for what they lost, it is our sincere hope that they can repair the breach that was caused on that terrible day.”

According to the Complaint, the plea agreement, the one-count Information to which PETTWAY pled guilty, sentencing submissions, and statements made in court:

On August 4, 1987, a mother and father (the “Mother” and the “Father”) brought their infant daughter to Harlem Hospital, where she was admitted with a fever.  In the early hours of the following day, hospital personnel discovered that the baby girl was missing.  In January 2010, the victim of the kidnapping (the “Victim”), who is now 25 years old, told a New York City Police Department Detective (the “NYPD Detective”) that when she sought to obtain prenatal care for her own child, she asked PETTWAY for identification documents, such as a birth certificate.  PETTWAY told the Victim that she did not have identification documents for her because she had been given to PETTWAY by a woman who used drugs.

The Victim also told the NYPD Detective that in January 2011 she contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“NCMEC”) to inquire about missing children from the late 1980s.  NCMEC directed the Victim to a picture of a missing child from 1987.  The Victim believed that the picture resembled her baby pictures.  NCMEC put the Victim in touch with the Mother and Father who had brought their daughter to Harlem Hospital on August 4, 1987.

Between January 4 and January 7, 2011, NYPD detectives obtained DNA samples from the Mother, the Father, and the Victim.  On January 18, 2011, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded that the DNA samples matched.

On January 23, 2011, PETTWAY surrendered to authorities in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  At that time, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) interviewed PETTWAY who told them that she had difficulty having her own children and had several miscarriages. PETTWAY admitted going to Harlem Hospital, taking the Victim with her by train to Bridgeport, and raising her there as her own.  She also admitted to trying to create a fake birth certificate for the Victim.  

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In addition to the prison term, Judge Castel sentenced PETTWAY, 50, of Raleigh, North Carolina, to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay a $100 special assessment fee.

While sentencing PETTWAY, Judge Castel said that she “inflicted a parent’s worst nightmare on a young couple who was only concerned about the health of their baby.”

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI and the NYPD in this case.  He also extended his thanks to law enforcement authorities in North Carolina and Connecticut for their assistance.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Andrea L. Surratt and Jillian Berman are in charge of the prosecution.





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