Charges Filed Over Report of Syringe in Soda Can : Soft drinks: A 25-year-old Van Nuys woman faces up to six months in jail if convicted of filing a false claim with police.


The Los Angeles city attorney's office filed a misdemeanor charge Wednesday against a Van Nuys woman who claimed that she found a syringe in a can of Diet Coke.

Debra Uyeoka, 25, faces up to six months in jail if convicted of filing a false police report. She claimed that she purchased the soft drink at a Van Nuys market and was jabbed in the tongue by a hypodermic needle inside.

The claim came in the midst of a barrage of reports that syringes were found in cans of Diet Pepsi.

The federal Food and Drug Administration reported over the weekend that there have been about 50 claims from 23 states of hypodermic needles in soda cans. All of the claims have turned out to be bogus, officials said.

A West Hollywood man faces federal charges of making false statements to authorities after admitting last week that his syringe-in-a-can story was a hoax. A Covina woman was arrested last week on charges of lying about a needle in a can of Crystal Diet Pepsi.

Uyeoka is the 14th person in the country to have been charged with filing false complaints.

Uyeoka walked into the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley station the morning of June 14 and presented a soda can with a syringe inside, authorities said.

Police became suspicious about her claim when relatives said they doubted the woman's charge and police linked her to prior bogus reports.

"She has apparently in the past made other police reports that turned out to be unfounded after investigation," Deputy City Atty. Laura Van Eyk said.

Police also checked receipts from the store where Uyeoka claims to have purchased the Diet Coke, Dale's Junior Market in the 16900 block of Vanowen Street in Van Nuys, and could find no record that matched her detailed report of when and how she bought the soda, Van Eyk said.

Uyeoka, who has continued to stick by her claim, is scheduled to be arraigned in Van Nuys Municipal Court on July 21.

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