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Man accused of putting needles in packaged meat

Man Put Needles In Meat Packages 'Just For The Hell Of It'

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A 68-year-old Illinois man was jailed without bond Thursday after being accused by federal prosecutors of inserting sewing needles into packaged meat "just for the hell of it" at a grocery store in his hometown at least seven times over more than a year.

The criminal complaint filed Wednesday against Ronald Avers said one buyer of boneless chuck roast at the Shop 'n Save store in Belleville just east of St. Louis later bit into one of the needles, and a needle slipped into a steak stuck another customer.

SuperValu Inc., the Minnesota-based corporate parent of the Shop 'n Save chain, stressed that none of the cases resulted in serious injury, and that the alleged tampering was isolated to only the meat section of one store.

"With every customer that brought it to our attention, none reported needing medical attention as a result of the tampering," said Jeff Swanson, a SuperValu spokesman. "We have no reason to believe any tampering occurred outside of that one store."

Avery, who made a brief court appearance Thursday on the seven tampering counts each punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine, was ordered jailed pending a scheduled detention hearing Monday.

A message left Thursday with Avers' federal public defender was not immediately returned.

FBI Special Agent Daniel Cook, in an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, wrote that Shop 'n Save alerted him July 9 of the tampering, which dated to May of last year, when a customer first reported finding a needle in a package of ground beef. Roughly four months later, Cook wrote, a store employee found a needle sticking out of a package of pork chops. Customers later reported finding needles in everything from ground beef to roasts and steaks.

Using its surveillance camera footage, Cook wrote, the Shop 'n Save's security crew identified a suspect seen manipulating meat items he never ended up buying and alerted Cook on Tuesday when that man again entered the store, riding a motorized scooter and using a portable oxygen tank.

After buying various items, Cook said, the man was approached by investigators outside the store and allowed them to search his truck, where an open package of sewing needles was found in a center console. Identifying himself as Ronald Avers, Cook wrote, the man insisted he kept the needles on hand to mend pants he tore while camping, then gradually acknowledged he used the needles more inappropriately.

"'Every now and then I would stick one in a hamburger,'" Cook quoted Avers as saying before the man expounded, "'Mostly hamburger, a couple of times I did it with a roast, maybe a pork chop every now and then.'"

Avers insisted he had no justification for such tampering, calling it a "stupid idea," Cook wrote.

"Avers said during the interview two times he inserted sewing needles into packaged meat products, 'just for the hell of it.'" the FBI agent wrote, adding that Avers continued: "It was stupidity. I didn't want to hurt nobody."

Online court records show that Avers has a history of traffic offenses but no previous criminal background.

Swanson, the SuperValu spokesman, said any customer who bought fresh meat from the store before July 12 can get a refund or exchange it.
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thorrsman August 01 2014 at 6:15 AM

Give him the max sentence on every count.

Flag Reply +32 rate up
3 replies
patriot1too August 01 2014 at 6:25 AM

Typical obama voter.

Flag Reply +29 rate up
34 replies
ranger197172 August 01 2014 at 6:56 AM

max penalty. I don't buy his excuse he didn't want to hurt someone.

Flag Reply +21 rate up
2 replies
mountainlora ranger197172 August 01 2014 at 11:23 AM

And I don't buy "mental illness" either. There ARE people who just become hostile, revengeful, and jealous of the happiness of others. And unfortunately some of them are bitter old men.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
cleegok ranger197172 August 01 2014 at 1:34 PM

how could you not think that when people picked up or ate the meat that they wouldn't get hurt.. theres one born every minute

Flag Reply 0 rate up
skevwe August 01 2014 at 7:31 AM

Gross... should be charged with attempted murder, what kind of disgusting diseases this guy might have.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
1 reply
Doctor Michael skevwe August 01 2014 at 1:45 PM

Well, since this is his only attempt at killing anyone, we should politely execute him one time only.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
vrf19977 August 01 2014 at 8:45 AM

Dude is mentally ill. You don't stick needles into food and say "I didn't wan to hurt anybody". What the heck does he think needles do, tickle?

Flag Reply +11 rate up
ram2002man August 01 2014 at 7:35 AM

They should make him eat all of the meat he played with.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
jstice4ever ram2002man August 01 2014 at 8:47 AM

once he's in jail he'll be playing with a lot of meat.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
cleegok ram2002man August 01 2014 at 1:35 PM

I like that idea
see if he gets sick or hiv

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Griffith's August 01 2014 at 9:13 AM

The town is Belleville, not Bellevue....get it right news girl!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
dhr62 Griffith's August 01 2014 at 9:23 AM

LOL - but he should be in Bellevue

Flag Reply +1 rate up
onemadashell Griffith's August 01 2014 at 9:43 AM

welcome to huffnpuff/aol reporting. where anything we post is most likely wrong.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Jo August 01 2014 at 7:35 AM

Send him to the nearest psychiatric hospital, after he reimbursed the store.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
Dan Jo August 01 2014 at 8:46 AM

And then lock him away where he can never again get his hands on anything sharp. ☺

Flag Reply +4 rate up
buckschottz August 01 2014 at 6:57 AM

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch-A disabled veteran who uses a portable oxygen tank has admitted putting sewing needles into packaged meat at a Shop ’n Save store here, and told the FBI he doesn’t know why.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
jijjhnsn buckschottz August 01 2014 at 7:59 AM

Interesting, "he doesn't know why". Mental defense.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
rohrscheibcroh jijjhnsn August 01 2014 at 11:02 AM

you know they don't care about mental health

Flag 0 rate up
ripeprunus August 01 2014 at 8:06 AM

the only thing stupid is him

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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