A drug bust of two Bronx men wasn't all it was cracked up to be - and now they're looking for a sweet payday from the city.
Cops accused Cesar Rodriguez and Jose Pena of having crack cocaine in their work van, but it was only coconut candy, they said Friday.
Charges were dropped after tests showed they were telling the truth, but the two men plan to file a $2 million suit against the NYPD.
"I spent five days in jail for possession of coconut candy," said Rodriguez, 33, an ex-con who works as a plumber's assistant.
He and Pena were parked near an Arthur Ave. bodega Jan. 15 when two police officers asked to search their green Chevy Venture van, the men said.
The cops found pieces of the crystalline candy - known as crema de coco and sold in bodegas across the city - in a plastic baggie.
Officer Anthony Burgos of the 48th Precinct arrested the duo for drug possession despite their insistence they were guilty only of a sweet tooth, Rodriguez said.
"I kept telling him it is candy," he said.
Rodriguez and Pena were locked up on a Friday night and didn't see a judge for arraignment until that Sunday, said their lawyer, Neil Wollerstein.
Pena was released after arraignment, but Rodriguez couldn't make the $5,000 bail a judge imposed because of a prior armed robbery conviction. He wasn't let go until this Thursday, the lawyer said.
"This all could have been avoided if they believed us and tasted the candy," said Pena, 48, a father of four boys who works with Rodriguez. "I thought my life was over."
Wollerstein said cops ignored proper procedure.
"They could have called for a field test [on the substance] and let these men go," he said as the notice of claim was filed with the controller's office.
"Either these two officers failed to follow procedure and were completely incompetent or they intentionally arrested these men for possession of coconut candy."
Stephen Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx district attorney's office, confirmed all charges were dropped.
"This wasn't a narcotic substance," he said.
The NYPD declined to comment.
The confection at the center of the case is widely available. It comes shaped like a rod and wrapped in plain cellophane.
Rodriguez said he crumbled his into pieces and put it in a Hello Kitty sandwich bag so it would be easier to eat while driving.
He got hooked on the sweet because his grandmother used to make it - and has no plans of quitting his habit.
"It just melts in your mouth," he said. "I eat this every day, and I'm not going to stop because of what I've just been through."