Updated 11:07 PM EDT, Sun, Oct 17, 2021

Man Slapped With $525 Fine for Not Paying 89 Cent Cup Refill Fee

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A South Carolina construction worker says a simple mistake at a hospital in Charleston has cost him hundreds of dollars.

Christopher Lewis of North Charleston says he was hit with a federal fine after he refilled his soda a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital without paying the 89 cent fee. The on-site construction worker says he didn't know refills at the VA Medical Center were for sale. As a result, during his lunch hour on Wednesday, a Federal Police Force agent slapped him with a federal fine for stealing government property, reports Gawker.

"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," said Lewis recalling the incident to WISTV.

Lewis says he tried to pay the $0.89 right there, however, he says he wasn't allowed nor was he given the chance to pay the cashier.

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

A man who identified himself as the chief of police then took Lewis to a back room where he was given a $525 ticket for shoplifting and banned from the property.

"Every time I look at the ticket, it's unbelievable to me," says Lewis, adding, "I can't fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525."

According to a hospital spokesperson, signs are posted in the cafeteria stating that refills aren't free. However, Lewis says he never noticed the signs and admits that he had refilled his drink without paying several times.

In addition to the fine, Lewis says he is also out of a job.

"I'm done there, at the VA hospital. 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."

On the other hand, a hospital spokesperson says that Lewis became aggressive during the confrontation. In a statement, the hospital wrote, "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 plans to contest the ticket in federal court.

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