CHARLESTON, S.C. — A South Carolina man says he’s facing a federal fine after an 89-cent mistake at a Veterans Administration hospital.
“Every time I look at the ticket, it’s unbelievable to me. I can’t fathom the fact that I made an 89-cent mistake that cost me 525 dollars.” Christopher Lewis is out of a job after what he says was a simple mistake that escalated.
According to a hospital spokesperson, signs are posted in the cafeteria that tell customers refills on soda are not free.
Lewis says he never saw the signs and says he had refilled his drink without paying on other occasions.
But this time, a man who said he was the chief of police stopped him.
Lewis says he tried to pay the 89 cents when he realized the problem. But he wasn’t given the chance.
He says instead he was taken to a room and given a $525 ticket for shoplifting. He was also told to never return to the VA hospital where he was working on a job site.
A hospital spokesperson says it was her understanding that Lewis was aggressive during the confrontation.
The medical center released a statement: “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.”
“I was very respectful and compliant, and I did everything they asked me to do,” Lewis says.
The ticket and fine are not determined by the hospital. It’s a federal citation.
“It’s about pretty much I guess you would say getting your face back. I want everybody to know that I made a simple mistake. That I’m not a thief. That I’m not dishonest. I’m trying to do the right thing.”
CNN contributed to this report