Errr What: Felony Count Over 43 Cents Worth of Soda Pop

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Felony Count over 43 Cents Worth of Soda Pop

A man was arrested for felony theft for underpaying for a bottle of Mountain Dew by 43 cents. The felony charge against the man has since been dropped, but many people were scratching their heads over the severity of the charge compared to the severity of the crime.

In August of 2021, Joseph Sobolewski, 38, entered an Exxon in Duncannon, Pennsylvania. Seeing a sign that advertised two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles for $3, he grabbed one bottle, put $2 on the counter, and walked out.

According to Sobolewski, he assumed that the individual bottle was $1.50, and didn’t realize that the discount only applied if he purchased two bottles.

In actuality, the bottle cost $2.29. Figuring in sales tax, he owed the store 43 cents.

State police were called, and they arrested Sobolewski on a felony charge. A judge ordered the man to be held on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

Sobolewski was in jail for seven days before his public defender was able to successfully argue for his release.

The reason behind the felony charge? A three-strikes law.

As Sobolewski had been charged with theft twice in the past 10 years — once for not paying for a tank of gas, and another time for stealing a pair of shoes — Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law required that a third theft charge has to be a felony, regardless of the cost of the products stolen.

So, for the alleged “accidental” theft of 43 cents, Sobolewski was facing up to seven years in prison.

Prosecutors have since dropped the felony theft charge, likely because of the amount, though District Attorney Andrew Bender has not responded to requests for comment on the case.

Sobolewski has said that it was “great news” that the felony charge against him was being dismissed, adding: “I feel I was treated unequally because I had a record.”

He is also facing another theft charge from the summer of 2021, this time in a different county. This charge is for suspicion of trying to take items from a Hobby Lobby in Cumberland County with his wife. In that case, Sobolewski’s bail was set at only $2,000, and he is trying to apply for a diversion program.

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