Crime and Courts

Felony Charge Dropped Against Man Who Underpaid 43 Cents For a Mountain Dew

Joseph Sobolewski had twice in the past 10 years been charged with theft, and under Pennsylvania's three-strikes law, a third theft charge must be a felony, regardless of the amount or value involved. He faced up to seven years in prison

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Pennsylvania prosecutors have dropped a felony theft charge against a man who underpaid for a bottle of Mountain Dew by 43 cents.

Prosecutors in Perry County dropped the theft charge this month against Joseph Sobolewski, 38, and downgraded another charge, the Patriot-News reported Tuesday.

In August, Sobolewski went into an Exxon in Duncannon and saw a sign advertising two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles for $3, he said. He took one bottle, slapped $2 on the counter for what he thought was a $1.50 soda and walked out, not realizing the discount did not apply to a single bottle.

The bottle really cost $2.29, so including tax, he owed the store 43 cents.

State police found Sobolewski and arrested him on a felony charge. A judge ordered him held on $50,000 cash-only bond. He was in jail for seven days before his public defender successfully argued for his release, the newspaper reported.

Sobolewski had twice in the past 10 years been charged with theft, once for not paying for a tank of gas and another time for stealing a pair of shoes from a store. Under Pennsylvania's three-strikes law, a third theft charge must be a felony, regardless of the amount or value involved. He faced up to seven years in prison.

District Attorney Andrew Bender did not answer emails or calls from the Patriot-News. Sobolewski did not return messages seeking comment.

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Sobolewski told the newspaper it was “great news” that the felony was being dismissed. “I feel I was treated unequally because I had a record.”

The newspaper previously reported that Sobolewski had been charged with theft in Cumberland County earlier in the summer on suspicion of trying to take items from a Hobby Lobby with his wife. For that charge, his bail was set at $2,000, and he is applying for a diversion program there.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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