Pennsylvania Man Once Facing 7 Years in Prison For Underpaying 43 Cents For a Mountain Dew Has Charge Dropped

The Pennsylvania man said he had misunderstood the promotion sign, and paid $2 instead of $2.43 before leaving the store with the drink
The Pennsylvania man said he had misunderstood the promotion sign, and paid $2 instead of $2.43 before leaving the store with the Mountain Dew.Getty

Joseph Sobolewski, 38, said he misunderstood a sign advertising a Mountain Dew promotion and paid 43 cents less than the amount he owed. Due to Pennsylvania's "three-strikes" rule, he was facing 7 years in prison as a result of the felony charge.

Pennsylvania prosecutors dropped a felony theft charge against a man who underpaid for a Mountain Dew by 43 cents. Joseph Sobolewski, 38, was arrested in August and had been facing up to seven years in jail for what he said was a misunderstanding over a promotion at a gas station convenience store until the charge was dropped this month, according to PennLive.

“That’s great news,” Sobolewski told the outlet. “I feel I was treated unequally because I had a record.”

Sobolewski had been at an Exxon gas station when he spotted a 2 for $3 sign for 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles. He grabbed a bottle, put $2 on the counter and left with the soda.

He had assumed the single bottle would cost $1.50 plus tax – however, he didn’t realize that the discount would not apply to a single bottle, which actually cost $2.29. Adding tax, he actually owed the convenience store 43 cents.

The store called state police, who tracked him down, charged him with felony theft and threw him in jail on a $50,000 cash bond, PennLive reported.

“I spent a week in jail until I was released on unsecured bail,” Sobolewski said in a GoFundMe that attempted to help him raise funds for an attorney.

He explained he and his wife were homeless, and he takes odd jobs to support his wife’s medical bills as she’s diabetic.

Because of his two prior theft convictions in the last ten years and the state’s “three-strikes” law that deems a third theft charge will be considered a felony regardless if the value, Sobolewski was also facing up to seven years in prison, PennLive reported.

His earlier theft charges stemmed from not paying for a tank of gas and stealing a pair of shoes from a store, according to the Associated Press.

Sobolewski also had another theft charge downgraded this month, for allegedly trying to steal items from a Hobby Lobby in Cumberland County, the Associated Press reported.

That had also been a “third strike” but despite it having been classified as a felony charge, Sobolewski’s bond was set at $2,000 and he was allowed to apply to the state’s diversion program. He does not have a next court date listed.

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