State Watch

Homeless man could face 7 years in prison for shortchanging store 43 cents

A homeless man is facing the possibility of seven years in prison after shortchanging a Pennsylvania convenience store 43 cents for a bottle of Mountain Dew.

Joseph Sobolewski, 38, stopped at a gas station in Duncannon last month after seeing a sign for a 2 for $3 deal on 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles, grabbed a bottle and left $2 on the counter before walking out, reported this week.

Sobolewski apparently didn’t know that a single bottle of beverage cost $2.29, not $1.50, meaning he still owned the store 43 cents when factoring in sales tax.

A gas station employee called police, who tracked down and arrested Sobolewski over a felony charge under the state’s “three strikes” law for retail theft, according to The Washington Post.

Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law, enacted in the mid-1990s, states that an item stolen under the value of $150 is considered a summary offense, much like a speeding ticket. The second offense under the law is considered a misdemeanor, but the third is considered a third-degree felony, the same charge for items valued at more than $1,000, reported.

Sobolewski is being held on a $50,000 bond and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Sobolewski has had various run-ins with the law in the past decade, which include stealing a pair of $40 shoes at a Kmart in 2011, serving three months in jail for violating his probation, paying a total of $866 in fines and fees, the Post reported. 

Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman Trooper Megan Ammerman told the Post that the authorities were following state law when they arrested Sobolewski. 

“Troopers cannot decide to not charge someone for a criminal case, only victims of certain crimes can decline charges,” Ammerman said. “If we are called to an incident involving a crime we follow and enforce the PA Crimes Code.”

Sobolewski’s next court hearing is scheduled for November.

Tags Duncannon Pennyslvania Theft Three-strikes law

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