​89 Cent Refill Turns Into $525 Fine Over Hospital Refill

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April 17, 2021

An 89 cent drink refill at a Veterans Affairs hospital is now costing a man $525. Over a refill? There are signs in the cafeteria telling people refills are not free, and little did he know that he would be given a ticket.

When Christopher Lewis of North Charleston, S.C., refilled his drink without paying Wednesday, a federal police officer gave him a ticket.

89 Cent Punishment

Lewis is a construction worker and says he never noticed the signs and has refilled his drink without paying before. He doesn’t think the fine fits the punishment. However, the medical center said that Lewis was ticketed for shoplifting, but that the VA doesn’t determine the amount of the fine.

“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.

Refill Goes To Court

Lewis says he wasn’t given a chance to pay for the refill and will contest the fine in federal court.

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.”

Lewis says he’s been banned.

“I’m done there, at the VA hospital,” he told the television news crew. “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.”

To his credit, most people can’t fathom the fact that an 89-cent mistake turns into a $525 punishment.