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$525 federal fine over a soda refill?

$500 Federal Fine Over a Soda Refill?

"Every time I look at the ticket, it's unbelievable to me. I can't fathom the fact that I made an $.89 mistake that cost me 525 dollars."

The South Carolina man who is now out of a job and facing federal charges over a "soda refill" will instead be getting a warning.


Here's what happened. Christopher Lewis says that after refilling his cup at a VA hospital, a police officer stopped him and asked if he was going to pay.

Lewis says he tried to pay the 89 cents, right there ... but wasn't allowed to.

He says he was taken to a room, given a $525 ticket for "theft of government property" and told not to return to the hospital.

Lewis says he wasn't trying to get away with anything, he just didn't know refills weren't free.

"I want everybody to know that I made a simple mistake. That I'm not a thief. That I'm not dishonest. I'm trying to do the right thing.""

After Lewis' story started trending online, a V-A spokesperson says that they reviewed his case and have "determined a warning in lieu of a citation is sufficient."

Join the discussion

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chaparita0728 April 18 2014 at 8:02 PM

Wouldn't it be funny if the "cop" was just a mental patient at the hospital?

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jdclamped April 18 2014 at 8:32 PM

this is very stupid. When you say the government waste money this is proof of it. Where I work at we give free refills. The cup cost 20 oz. 15 cents, the soda cost to fill 25 cents, the ice cost priceless,lol, most people over fill the cup with ice so actually the cost of soda goes down. But anyway we charge $1.25 for all you can drink. average person drinks 2 instore and 1 for the road. Total cost for this customer is 90cents I make 35 cents profit plus write off some of it as a loss all legal and of course most customers buy other things where my real profits are.

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brownmagill April 18 2014 at 8:32 PM

I am a social worker who once accompanied an elderly vet to a VA medical center for a doctor's appt. He was given a prescription which we brought to the pharmacy there to be filled. We waited four hours - four hours! - for that prescription to be filled. Being a nosy kind of person, I looked into the bag and discovered that my agency had just paid me 4 hours' wages for an over-the-counter enema which costs about $1.00 at any retail pharmacy. Need I mention that the old guy was exhausted by the time he got home? And I was fuming.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
bradbarb69 April 18 2014 at 8:33 PM

"Something happening here,what it is aint exactly clear.There's a man with a gun over there,tellin me I got to beware"Buffalo Springfield 40 years ago.We didn't listen

Flag Reply +5 rate up
jjsvg April 18 2014 at 8:34 PM

If we take that concept, a simple case of zero communication by the VA, a customer who apparentlly had no idea of the hidden rules, gined >$500 for a $0.15 issue.
A fitting punishment then, for the person in charge or responsible for this not posting a sign, for arresting, for charging, for allowing it to proceed to court, would be life in prison. Ridiculous of course.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
jmoore1248 April 18 2014 at 8:36 PM

VA just doing more to rip us off. The prices they charge for some items should be criminal.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
bradbarb69 April 18 2014 at 8:52 PM

Shame we have to pass bills to replace common sense.That being said,pass a free re-fill for veterans bill.Serve your country,put your life on the line only to have to fight again when you come home-PATHETIC!!!!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Jimmy April 18 2014 at 8:54 PM

Typical abuse of power.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
alscjo April 18 2014 at 8:58 PM

Well, in MY experience(s) with the V.A. I've never had anything like this happen. As a 10 year Army veteran I have to say my V.A. healthcare is top notch. The staff's of the 3 different V.A. hospitals/clinics I've been to have all been excellent. Respectful, dedicated and ,seemingly at least, genuinely caring about my health. I'm sure this was just a over zealous security guard and a jerk of a director. The V.A. hospitals in Louisville,Ky.,Johnson City,Tn.,and Lake City,Fl. have my undying gratitude for the care I've received from them.

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2 replies
bradbarb69 alscjo April 18 2014 at 9:02 PM

Thank you for your service.I hope you get free re-fills EVERYWHERE!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Ed Cerni alscjo April 18 2014 at 9:09 PM

Right on, anyhow was this guy a vet? Maybe just a floor cleaner, or some thing.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Robert & Lisa April 18 2014 at 8:59 PM

If there isn't free refills a sign saying NO REFILLS would be good. But as usual, the government rarely does a good job on anything. Less government is what we need, not more.

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