Man faces federal charges over $.89 drink refill

A resident of North Charleston, SC was charged a federal fine after forgetting to pay for a drink refill at a VA hospital in downtown Charleston. The man, an on-site construction worker, says he wasn't aware refills cost extra after being hit with federal charges on Wednesday.

According to WISTV, the ticket was issued to the man, Christopher Lewis, by a federal police force for not paying the cost of a refill, $.89. A hospital spokesmen dubbed the crime "theft of government property."

Ultimately, as Yahoo News reports, the slip-up cost him $525 dollars in fines and his job. He tried to pay the $.89 after being called out for his mistake, but was denied.

"I never had an option to make right what I had done wrong," Lewis said. "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."

Lewis was escorted to the back room where the ticket was issued and he was told he couldn't work there or come on the property anymore. The hospital released a statement alleging that Lewis became aggressive and confrontational during the incident.

The statement reads: "The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is fortunate to have a highly trained Federal police force to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees. As Federal police they are responsible for enforcing the law. 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. 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 and his wife plan to contest the fine in a federal court.

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