NY CO reinstated after getting booted for failing drug test marred by poppy seed bagel breakfast

The officer tested above the DOC's legal limit for morphine in 2016 after eating a poppy seed bagel before a drug test


By Reuven Blau
New York Daily News

NEW YORK —His argument wasn’t just poppycock.

Correction Officer Eleazar Paz — booted from the job after he failed a drug test because he’d eaten a poppy seed bagel beforehand — has been reinstated after a long legal battle, a jail insider told the Daily News on Wednesday.

The officer tested above the DOC's legal limit for morphine in 2016 after eating a poppy seed bagel before a drug test. (Photo/Stas Ovsky/Wikimedia)
The officer tested above the DOC's legal limit for morphine in 2016 after eating a poppy seed bagel before a drug test. (Photo/Stas Ovsky/Wikimedia)

The Civil Service Commissioner overturned the decisions of an administrative law judge in the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and the commissioner of the Correction Department — a rare disagreement, the jail insider told The News.

The bagel bungle occurred Jan. 16, 2016, when Paz provided a urine sample for a random drug test that showed positive for small amounts of morphine and codeine — an amount just above the Correction Department’s legal cutoff for both substances.

Most poppy bagels in New York City use washed seeds. That drastically reduces their opium alkaloid narcotic component.

Nine days later, Paz was notified he failed the drug test and his case went to an administrative law judge in the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, who agreed with an expert’s testimony that poppy seeds could have produced the failed test — and recommended Paz be rehired.

But Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann still had her doubts, and fired him anyway.

After a year of legal wrangling, Paz was reinstated to his $82,000 post on Christmas Eve, the jail insider told The News.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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