Theft Charges Dropped Against No-Tip Couple

Couple to appear on CNN Tuesday

By Danielle Johnson
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 10:41 AM EDT
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Theft Charges Dropped Against No-Tip Couple

Two college students were charged with theft after they refused to pay gratuity at a Pub in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem Township police dropped theft charges against two college students who refused to leave a tip at a Lehigh Valley restaurant for what they said was lousy service.

John Wagner, 24 and Leslie Pope, 22, were hauled off to jail and charged with theft last month after they refused to pay a $16.35 mandatory service fee charged by the Lehigh Pub on East Fourth Street. The couple only paid  $73.87 of the $90.22 bill. 

The pair, who ate at the now infamous pub with six of their friends, claimed they waited more than an hour for their order. Pope claimed she had to go to the bar to get her drink refilled and pick up her own silverware.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Pope and her friend were right and recommended to Bethlehem police that the charges against the couple be dropped, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

“It would not be the kind of case that should be processed criminally, Morganelli told the paper. “It was one of those matters that should be processed civilly.”

Pope, who has interviewed with media outlets across the country, told The Express Times, she is grateful she has be vindicated and looks forward to her day in court.

“It’s been six days. It didn’t take long,” she said.

The case captured national attention and bought into question whether customers should pay a tip regardless of the level of service they receive. 

NBCPhiladelphia.com received more than 3 million hits for the couple's story alone and more than 2,000 viewers left their comments about the incident.

An attorney for the Lehigh Pub said he was a bit surprised by the news.

“We do not agree with the facts as presented in the press last week. Sheenan told the Morning Call. “This is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Bethlehem Police Department, not Lehigh Pub, and we will defer to them as the legal process plays out.”

Both Pope and Wagner are expected to appear on CNN Tuesday.

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