A Man Is Looking at Seven Years in Prison for a 43-Cent “Theft”

There are stupid criminals, and there are stupid wrinkles in the criminal justice system.  And the latter definitely applies here.

A man in Pennsylvania named Joseph Sobolewski was at a convenience store recently, and noticed a sign advertising 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles, two for $3.00.  He grabbed one, threw $2.00 on the counter, and walked out.

But apparently you needed to buy two to get the discount, and a single bottle was $2.29, not $1.50.  So he’d shorted the store 29 cents plus tax, or 43 cents total.

The store called police, and they tracked him down.  Joseph was charged with a felony, and was locked up on a $50,000 cash-only bond.  He’s facing the possibility of three to seven years in prison.

It’s a felony because this is his third theft charge, and the state has a “three strikes” law.  His first conviction came more than a decade ago for stealing a tank of gas, and his second was in 2011, when he stole a $40 pair of shoes from K-Mart.

Joseph MIGHT be spared this time though.  Since the shop owner says he DID leave $2.00, prosecutors will have to prove this wasn’t a misunderstanding and that he intentionally deprived the store of 43 cents, which seems unlikely.