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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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pmike51 April 18 2014 at 8:04 PM

I go there and never knew they had food cops station there, next time I go I'll look again.
There is a small sign and it's out of place, also customers are allowed to fill their own drinks, this gives the idea you can refill. Most fast foods allow it knowing your just toping off your drink. The cost of a total of 32 oz is 7 to 12 cents when sold thru soda fountains, huge profits. The cop was way over board with the ticket. Seems he wanted to makes point for his next evaluations.
Glad some one at the VA hospital had some brains, well done who ever you are.
This cop could use some help in showing a little understand and kindness.
If the person didn't see the sign then allow him to pay the 89 cents, to simple for you?

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1 reply
bradbarb69 pmike51 April 18 2014 at 8:06 PM

You make too much sense to work for the govt lol

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!!!!!

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Jimmy April 18 2014 at 8:54 PM

Typical abuse of power.

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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!!

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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.

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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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Frank April 18 2014 at 9:03 PM

This story says he's a S. Carolina man, it doesn't say if he was a Vet and exactly where the VA hospital is located! I was a VA Police Officer for 20 years, I would have let him pay for the drink, I always gave people breaks if it wasn't serious. Most of the guys I worked with were jerks, some would have cited their own Mothers!

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