VAN NUYS : Woman Enters Plea in Soft Drink Case

A Van Nuys woman charged with falsely claiming that she found a syringe in a can of Diet Coke pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Van Nuys Municipal Court to one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.

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

Municipal Judge Alan Ellis scheduled an Aug. 25 trial.

Uyeoka's claim came in the midst of a barrage of reports that needles and syringes were found in cans of Diet Pepsi.

During May and June there were dozens of reports nationwide that hypodermic needles were discovered inside soda cans. Officials with the Food and Drug Administration, however, have said that not one of the claims turned out to be true.

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

Police became suspicious about Uyeoka's claim when relatives said they doubted the woman's charge and police linked her to prior bogus reports, Deputy City Atty. Laura Van Eyk said.

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