Guy Fails to Pay for 89-Cent Refill, Gets Fined $525

Christopher Lewis hit with federal charges, though VA later backs down
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2014 1:50 PM CDT
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – When a construction worker refilled his drink at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston, SC, yesterday, he had no idea it was going to lead to federal charges and a fine of $525. Christopher Lewis was on his lunch hour when he went back for more soda without paying the 89-cent refill cost. (He says he was unaware.) When confronted by authorities, Lewis tells WCSC he tried to pay the 89 cents, but was not allowed to do so. Instead, the Federal Police Force issued him the pricey shoplifting ticket, a federal citation.

A hospital spokesperson explained that he committed "theft of government property," adding that Lewis was aggressive during the incident. After the story broke, the hospital backed down and dropped the steep fine in lieu of a warning. Lewis isn't a federal employee, and he was working at a construction site near the medical center, reports Fox News. While authorities said earlier that he would be banned from his work site, too, it was unclear whether they would, or could, still try to enforce that.

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