Two New Yorkers Free After 'Drugs' Turn Out to be Candy
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Two New York men were locked up and left in a jail cell for nearly a week after police officers mistook their candy for a bag of crack.
The "drugs" were finally tested five days later and determined to be popular Coco (coconut) Candy. The charges were dropped.
The trouble began the night of Jan. 15, as Josť Pena, a 48-year-old plumber from the Bronx, N.Y., and his longtime pal and colleague Cesar Rodriguez, 33, were headed to a party, and decided to stop at a bodega on 181st Street and the Grand Concourse.
When they came out, cops were waiting and asked to search their Ford minivan. "I said ĎGo search.í I even opened the door,"
Rodriguez told The Post.
An officer rummaged around, came out holding a "Hello Kitty" sandwich bag, and shouted "Bingo!" the men said.
"Itís only candy!" Rodriguez said, as the cops handcuffed him and Pena, and several other police cars rushed to the scene.
Rodriguez said he buys a 50-cent bag of Coco Candy, a hard coconut-based treat, almost every day. Because it easily crumbles, he puts it in a sandwich bag.
"Can you test it? Can you taste it?" Rodriguez asked the cops. "Shut up!" they replied.
"I didnít know having candy was a crime," he said.
The menís lawyer, Neal Wallerstein, said the cops could have realized their mistake quickly.
"Thatís the reason why they have a field-test kit," he said, referring to the NYPDís portable drug identification equipment.
But Wallerstein said cops just needed their noses.
"It smells like sugar," he said.