A Charleston construction worker is facing federal charges over a soda refill. Christopher Lewis was unaware that refills were not free at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and it cost him $525 and his job.
Lewis said that when he was leaving the soda fountain, someone stopped him and asked if he was going to pay. He said he wasn’t aware he had to and tried to pay the $0.89, but he claims he wasn’t allowed to do that. He told WISTV, “I never had an option to make right what I had done wrong.”
He then was taken to a back room and issued a $525 ticket for shoplifting. Lewis said he’s not allowed to do anymore construction work there. He 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.”
A hospital employee said that Lewis was aggressive and confrontational during the incident. The hospital released a statement saying:
“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 says he will appeal this decision in federal court.