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Charleston soda ‘thief’ avoids $525 fine

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A man who faced a $525 fine for refilling an 89-cent drink at a Veterans Affairs hospital apparently will get off with a warning.

When Christopher Lewis of North Charleston, S.C., refilled his drink without paying Wednesday, a federal police officer gave him a ticket. Lewis is a construction worker and says he never noticed the signs and has refilled his drink before without paying.

VA spokeswoman Tonya C. Lobbestael said after reviewing what happened at the Ralph C. Johnson Center in Charleston, officials decided a warning was sufficient.

Lobbestael says the cafeteria at the center has signs posted in the drink machines indicating the cost of refills. Failing to pay for the refills is considered shoplifting.

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