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A man paid 43 cents less than the cost of a Mountain Dew. He’s facing felony charges

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A man was arrested in Pennsylvania and is facing felony charges after allegedly paying just 43 cents less than the cost of a soda at a convenience store.

Joseph Sobolewski grabbed a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew at a store in Perry County, Pennsylvania last month. The store was charging $3 for two bottles of the beverage, PennLive first reported.  

Sobolewski put $2 on the counter and left the store.

But a single bottle of the beverage cost $2.29, not $1.50. So, the man was allegedly underpaying by 43 cents, including tax.

The store called police, and Sobolewski was arrested on August 23, according to court records. He was jailed and given a $50,000 bond.

The bond was later changed to “unsecured,” meaning he could be released without paying first.

Theft of 43 cents is not normally a felony under Pennsylvania law. But Sobolewski has multiple previous theft charges, including driving away from a gas station without paying for a tank of gasoline and stealing a pair of shoes from a K-Mart store, according to multiple reports.

The man could be facing between three-and-a-half to seven years in prison for the alleged incident, according to multiple reports. However, prosecutors in the case will have to prove that the man intentionally withheld the value of the soda, and that the alleged theft was not a misunderstanding.

Trooper Megan Ammerman, a public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police, confirmed to USA TODAY that if a person has previously been convicted of retail theft two times, a third or greater offense is a felony, regardless of the value.

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

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Jacqueline Leister, the magisterial district judge who set Sobolewski’s original bond, told PennLive that she could not remember why she set the value at $50,000.

She cited his previous offenses and other factors, including that he is homeless. She argued that he could be harder for law enforcement officials to find if he did not attend court hearings.

Sobolewski’s attorney and the judge could not immediately be reached for comment.