Dale Peterson, the Alabama Republican running for Agricultural Commissioner, has railed against “thugs and criminals.” Yet, Peterson is facing a second shoplifting charge in just five months. The latest charge however is over a handful of nuts that he ate at a Sam’s Club. Indeed, it is hard to see why either of these charges were brought rather than requiring a simple payment at the counter.
Dale Peterson has insisted that “I can tell you right now on a stack of Bibles, Dale Peterson is not a thief.” Yet, Sam’s Club says that he was spotted shopping for roughly an hour and a half during which time he opened a jar of cashews and ate a handful. They watched him apparently for over an hour and then spotted him putting the jar back. They waited for him to pay for his other groceries and grabbed him outside of the store with the 22 cents of unpaid cashews in his stomach.
His defense was classic: “Maybe I’m getting too damn old, getting CRS disease or whatever . . . can’t remember shit.”
Notably, he spent hundreds of dollars at the store that day in paying his prior bill and buying more items. I am a bit surprised that, given his large purchase, this could not be resolved without resource to a criminal charge and trial. Peterson says that he simply forgot that he opened the jar. He said that he spent an hour and a half grazing off free food “eating little chicken strips that they give away or some yogurt. Sometimes you get through, you’re full, you’ve had lunch there.”
After his feasting at Sam’s, he paid and left only to have a security guard stop him and say that he “didn’t pay for those peanuts that are in your stomach.”
Was Peterson wrong? Obviously. But what is the need for a criminal charge here?
I was particularly suspicious of Peterson after reading that this was his second such arrest. However, the first arrest also seemed a bit minor. That incident occurred months earlier at a Walmart when Peterson pushed his cart full of beer and toilet paper past the registers. He said that he was just parking the cart near a bathroom, but he was charged with shoplifting.
Peterson is now charged third-degree theft of property on the second incident — not a good development for a law-and-order guy who would brandish a shotgun in his advertisements.
Source: NY Daily News