Man in Jail For Mistakenly Not Paying Full Amount For $2.29 Mountain Dew

A man has been charged with a felony offense and kept in prison on a $50,000 cash bond after allegedly committing a theft amounting to 43 cents.

Joseph Sobolewski, 38, of Duncannon, Pennsylvania, was arrested following an incident which occurred at a store in the 3200 block of Susquehanna Trail in Watts Township on August 23.

According to online police records, Sobolewski and a female entered a store at around 6:08 p.m. He is accused of failing to fully pay for a 20-ounce Mountain Dew and leaving the store before fleeing in an orange 2006 Chevrolet HHR.

However, the suspect claims he did attempt to pay for the beverage. As reported by PennLive, Sobolewski saw a sign at the store with a "2 for $3" offer for bottles of Mountain Dew.

Sobolewski then took a bottle on the table and placed $2 on the counter, believing that one would only cost $1.50. The actual cost for a single bottle was $2.29, meaning he owed the store 29 cents plus tax, or 43 cents.

Police were then called and Sobolewski was arrested and booked into Perry County Prison.

As this was the "third strike" against him, the 38-year-old was charged with a felony as the state does not take into account the value of the item in the third arrest when deciding charges.

Under Pennsylvania law, a first charge of retail theft where the value of the items stolen are less than $150 is listed as a summary offense, with the second a misdemeanor.

Sobolewski now faces up to seven years in jail if convicted of the felony offense.

"For me, I would get the deterrent factor if someone's thefts were getting worse or higher in value," Brandon Flood, director of the state's Board of Parole, told PennLive.

"But the lack of discretion is what bothers me. It's problematic because it doesn't factor in the amount."

Sobolewski was first convicted of theft more than 10 years ago and filling up his vehicle with a tank of gasoline and driving off without paying. In December 2011, he was arrested for stealing a $39.99 pair of shoes from a K-Mart in Cumberland County.

Sobolewski was also previously arrested in June after allegedly stealing craft supplies from a Hobby Lobby. The case was also filed as a felony since it was his third arrest, but that time his bond was set at $2,000.

Nyssa Taylor, the criminal justice policy counsel with ACLU Philadelphia, argued that people should not be jailed over such small amounts and that Sobolewski, who is homeless, would have no way to pay his $50,000 bond.

"The state prisons are bulging," she told PennLive. "We don't need to be jailing people over this. It's punishment of poverty and substance use disorder."

Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline Leister said she couldn't remember exactly why she set Sobolewski's cash bond at $50,000, but cited his previous offenses and outstanding warrants for child support and a $1,500 fine from a previous marijuana possession arrest as possible reasons.

Sobolewski is to appear next in court in November.

Leister has been contacted for further comment.

mountain dew theft
High fructose corn syrup is listed in the ingredients of a bottle of Mountain Dew that is displayed in a cooler of a food truck on June 10, 2015 in San Francisco, California. A man has been charged with a felony offense and kept in prison on a $50,000 cash bond after allegedly not paying full price for a bottle of Mountain Dew. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images