A construction worker who failed to pay an 89-cent refill fee was slapped with a $525 fine by a federal officer after getting a second serving of soda from a South Carolina hospital.
Christopher Lewis, who was working on site at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in North Charleston, S.C., said a federal police officer approached him in the hospital's cafeteria Wednesday after he refilled his cup and issued him a ticket.
"As I was filling my cup up, I turned to walk off and a fella grabbed me by the arm and asked me was I going to pay for that, and I told him I wasn't aware that I had to pay for that," Lewis told WCSC-TV
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Lewis claims the federal cop then wouldn't let him pay the cashier for the soda refill.
"I never had an option to make right what I had done wrong," the construction worker added.
In response to media inquiries, a VA hospital spokesperson released a statement to WCSC-TV in which it described Lewis' act as a "theft of government property."
"Today a Federal citation was issued for shoplifting in the VA cafeteria to an individual who stated to VA police he had not paid for refills of beverages on multiple occasions, even though signs are posted in the cafeteria informing patrons refills are not free," the hospital statement read. "Shoplifting is a crime. The dollar amount of the ticket is not determined by VA as it is a Federal citation. The citation may be paid or the recipient may choose to appear in Federal court to contest it."
According to Lewis, who is currently unemployed, he will contest the fine in federal court.
"I'm done there, at the VA hospital," Lewis told WCSC-TV. "I'm not allowed to go on the premises anymore. I asked him can I still work on the job site and just bring my lunch and not got to the cafeteria and he said he wanted me off the premises."
"Every time I look at the ticket, it's unbelievable to me," he added. "I can't fathom the fact that I made a 89-cent mistake that cost me $525."
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