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Police: Suspect flees, crashes after drug sale

Two men were arrested Tuesday on charges they possessed crack cocaine after Nassau police witnessed a drug deal in an East Meadow parking lot.

First precinct officers were conducting a narcotics investigation on North Jerusalem Avenue in East Meadow about 9 p.m. Tuesday when they saw Anthony Castano, 23, of Merrick Avenue in Merrick pull into a parking lot in a 1999 Infiniti, police said.

The officers then saw James Gauthier, 45, of Bellmore Avenue in Bellmore walk up to the Infiniti and get in. After a short conversation, police said, Gauthier left the car and began walking away. Believing that a drug deal had taken place, the officers approached the Infiniti and told Castano to shut off the engine and show them his hands. They noticed a large, clear plastic bag containing smaller clear bags with a substance "believed to be crack cocaine" in Castano's lap.

Castano then began swallowing the bags, police said. As they tried to get Castano out of the car, he hit the gas and struck an unmarked police car, then fled westbound on North Jerusalem Road, eventually striking a utility pole at Bellmore Avenue and North Jerusalem Road in Bellmore.

After being removed from the car by Nassau emergency services personnel, Castano was arrested and taken to a hospital, where he was admitted in stable condition, police said.

Gauthier was arrested at the scene, found with a bag containing a substance believed to be crack cocaine, police said. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and released on an appearance ticket. He is scheduled to appear at First District Court in Hempstead on Feb. 3.

Castano was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal mischief and tampering with physical evidence.

Police said he will be arraigned as soon as "medically practical."

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