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Things Aren't Always What They Appear to Be

The initial news reports were sensational: a father attempting to avoid arrest had stuffed a bag of cocaine into his little son's pocket, telling the boy it was candy. The child took the bag to day care, where a little girl ingested some of the powder.

At first glance, those initial reports appeared to have the man charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to a long stay in prison for a serious drug offense and other charges. The reality, however, is that he's getting three years of probation rather than time in prison.

The sensational story apparently fizzled after police officers began digging into the facts.

In this case, it appeared at first that the man had given cocaine to his four-year-old son. Yet after investigators talked to the boy, The Star-Ledger reports that it became evident to officers that the boy had found the bag himself; no one had given it to him.

There was also no forensic evidence linking the father to the drugs the boy found and had in his possession.

The little girl in day care recovered that same day from the small amount of the drug she ingested.

According to New Jersey law, a child must be at least five years old in order to be a competent witness in court.

The Newark father, who has been arrested four times on drug-related charges, was arrested after the incident in September of 2009, spending three months in jail before he was able to post bond.

But because evidence against him in this case was slim, prosecutors decided it was best to offer a plea deal rather than risk losing at trial.

Mark Ali, director of the child abuse unit of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said, "You have to take a step back and ask, can we win?"

The 26-year-old father pleaded guilty to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and received three years of probation.

Resource: The Star-Ledger: "Newark man with prior drug arrests gets probation for cocaine found in 4-year-old son's jacket": December 29, 2011