NEW YORK – Police say an unemployed suburban mother of five found a quick way to make ends meet: She was arrested for turning her children into beggars.
Antoinette Jones, 37, pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, when she was arraigned Tuesday in Yonkers City Court. Jones was released without bail after Judge Charles Wood issued an order of protection that bars her from her five children.
Child Protective Services in Yonkers, a New York City suburb, was notified about the case, police said. Agency officials said they could not discuss the case.
Police discovered the panhandling when Jones' 11-year-old son was reported missing at a Pathmark supermarket at about 8 p.m. on Monday.
When police arrived, Jones' 18-year-old daughter told them that her mother had made them walk several miles from their home to the supermarket, where they were told to stand outside and beg for money.
While the 18-year-old went to the bathroom, her brother disappeared, said Lt. Diane Hessler, a Yonkers police spokeswoman. The boy returned to the store several hours later; police didn't know where he had gone.
Jones and her daughter were taken to the police precinct, where the mother was arrested. She told police she was on public assistance.
Last week, Jones' 7-year-old son disappeared from a ShopRite supermarket in Yonkers, and was found in a nearby fast-food restaurant.
The 18-year-old told police her mother frequently forced the children to walk to stores to beg. The teenager said they often picked up $30 to $40 at a time.
Jones' attorney, Joseph Cosgrove of Hartsdale, declined to comment when reached by phone.