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Thursday, May 23, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Spilled Coffee Led To Hobson Cocaine Arrest

AP

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - If Butch Hobson never resumes his baseball managing career, spilled coffee could be the reason.

An affidavit made public yesterday detailed why federal authorities delivered an overnight letter containing cocaine to the Pawtucket hotel where the former Boston Red Sox manager was staying.

An Alabama secretary, who was not identified, was asked by Hobson friend Jerry Poe to mail the letter, according to the affidavit filed in support of a search warrant by Russell Holske Jr., a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.

Before she could, the secretary accidentally spilled coffee on the envelope and opened it to make sure the contents were not marred, the document said.

"At that time the employee observed a small clear plastic bag containing white powder that appeared to be cocaine," the affidavit said.

The secretary contacted federal authorities, who tested the powder and determined it was cocaine. Working undercover, federal agents delivered the letter on May 4 to Hobson, manager of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, who were playing in Pawtucket.

Authorities found 2.6 grams of cocaine, worth about $120, in Hobson's shaving kit and arrested him.

Poe, a high-school teammate of Hobson's from Hueytown, Ala., has acknowledged sending the letter, but said he never put cocaine in it. He has not been charged.

Notes

-- Outfielder David Justice of the Atlanta Braves had surgery today to repair his dislocated right shoulder, an injury that may sideline him for the rest of the season.

-- Colorado pitcher Bret Saberhagen will undergo reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday, the Rockies said.

-- Pete Harnisch, New York Mets pitcher suspended for eight games for starting a brawl against the Chicago Cubs, withdrew his appeal of the suspension. He began serving the suspension last night against Los Angeles.

-- The New York Yankees released ex-Mariner infielder Felix Fermin, who was signed to a minor-league contract May 8.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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