Collado struggled to explain in English how a narcotics squad had barreled into his Tioga store, cut wires to his video-surveillance system and - once the cameras went dark - stole almost $10,000 and cartons of Marlboro Lights.
He asked them for a Spanish interpreter and they promised to return with one. They never did.
Now it's too late.
Last week, news broke that federal prosecutors had decided not to file criminal charges against the officers. And the five-year statute of limitations has run out, not just in Collado's case but for nearly two dozen other merchants with similar allegations.
"They played the clock game. They let time run out," said Danilo Burgos, the former head of the 300-member Dominican Grocers Association who is running for a state House seat in North Philadelphia. "Now no charges will be filed and people have no confidence whatsoever in the process."
Collado was one of more than 20 bodega and corner-store owners who independently told the Daily News in its 2009 series "Tainted Justice" that narcotics officers had destroyed their video cameras and then pocketed cash, helped themselves to food and drinks, and walked out with armfuls of merchandise....