A South Carolina man received a federal fine for refilling a drink at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston without paying, and now he’s out of a job.
Christopher Lewis, a construction worker, told WISTV that he didn’t know refills weren’t free when he refilled his cup during his lunch hour.
Federal Police Force at the VA Medical Center issued a ticket to Lewis on Wednesday informing him a refill costs $0.89.
"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 said.
"I never had an option to make right, what I had done wrong," he said.
He tried to pay the 89 cents then and there, but instead he was taken to a room, given a $525 ticket for shoplifting and asked never to return.
"I'm done there, at the VA hospital. I'm not allowed to go on the premises anymore,” he said. “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 spokesperson called it a “theft of government property” and said Lewis was aggressive during the confrontation. The hospital says there is a sign in the cafeteria stating that refills aren’t free.
Lewis says he never saw the sign and admitted to refilling his drink for free on other occasions.
"Every time I look at the ticket, it's unbelievable to me,” he said. “I can't fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525."