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January 26, 2010
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NY officers confuse candy for crack, arrest two

The men arrested for drug possession were held for a week


NEW YORK — New York police are refusing to apologize to two men arrested for drug possession and held for a week over what turned out to be a bag of candy.

Neal Wallerstein, a lawyer for Jose Pena, 48, and Cesar Rodriguez, 33, said the men stopped at a bodega before going to a party the night of Jan. 15 and police outside the store asked to search their van when the men emerged, the New York Post reported Monday.

"I said 'Go search.' I even opened the door," Rodriguez said.

He said police discovered a Hello Kitty sandwich bag full of white powder in the vehicle and handcuffed the men despite their protests that the powder was Coco Candy, a popular coconut-flavored confection.

The men were charged with possession of crack cocaine and taken to jail. Pena was held for three days, but Rodriguez spent five days in jail before police completed testing on the candy and dropped the charges.

Wallerstein said police should have realized the error more quickly.

"That's the reason why they have a field-test kit," he said.

The police department said it has no official comment on the case.

Copyright 2010 UPI

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