In the Can: Bush Administration Prosecutes Woman for Spilling Diet Coke

Natalie Walters is looking at a two-day trial and potentially six months in jail. Her crime? She poured a soda on the counter of a cafeteria at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.
U.S. Attorney Tom Moss is pursuing her conviction with remarkable vigor.

Walters says that she was upset when the cafeteria charged her $3.80 for a refill on her Diet Coke that usually costs $1 or $1.50. She routinely used the cafeteria when bringing her elderly father for visits.

She said that she asked to speak with a manager and when he told her that the price was right. She then said that she wanted to return the soda but was told that she could not. She had to buy it (which seems a bit curious). She then got angry and entered the realm of a fast-food felon by pouring the soda on the counter. The manager told her never to come back and she thought it was over — particularly after staying in the hospital for hours without any further problems.

The next day, her father returned for a dental appointment and was told to have his daughter called the hospital. It appears that they had accessed his medical files to track her down. She was later told by a reporter that Moss had filed criminal charges.

The criminal complaint alleges that she ” … intentionally pouring soft drink beverage from a large mug over the cash register and onto the floor during a disagreement with the cashier over payment.”

It was a good thing that this was not a Big Gulp at 7Eleven — she would be looking at 10 to 20 years on a chain gang.

Ironically, if convicted, she will get her cokes for free, though she will be denied refills. in the meantime, the Justice Department has so little crime to prosecute that it will force a two-day trial and possibly incarcerate an individual for less than $4. I expect that the case will be added to narcotics figures as a “coke case.”

Of course, at least Walters did not receive a summons over 63 cents in owed child support, ]here
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16 thoughts on “In the Can: Bush Administration Prosecutes Woman for Spilling Diet Coke”

  1. Having read all of the contributions here there is not much more for me to add or say but yes, who could not agree that this prosecution is absolute asinine, malicious idiocy on the part of our government?
    When the “Shrub” administration was firing first class US attorneys for doing their jobs, working for us, based solely upon the criterion, “are they for us or against us?” it is clear and apparent that US Attorney Tom Moss was not on that short list. Moss is clearly in the administrations court, no pun intended.
    Jill does make a valid point that one cannot go around spilling things in protest. First, Ms. Walters could have simply not paid for the drink and walked away; but she did not walk away because she is an honest American, she paid for the Coke. Second, she could have chosen to pay for the drink and then exercised her constitutional right to free speech and tell the incompetent moron of a manager to stick the drink where the sun doesn’t shine, and then walk away. Ms. Walters made her choice.
    Does Ms. Walters’s choice warrant Federal criminal prosecution? Absolutely not! This is a very minor incident should never have reached to these proportions if intelligent, correctly trained individuals had done their jobs. Wipe it up and move on.
    Out all of this though the least being said and talked about is about how her Dad’s medical records were accessed for non-medical reasons to track and locate Ms. Walters. One is supposed to have medical privacy rights but apparently not from the government.
    Being a veteran I know a little bit about the VA hospital system. Generally a veteran is treated as though they are some sort of a dead-beat leaching off of the government. One can only imagine what it must have been like for Ms. Walters to watch her ailing father, one who served, being treated, perhaps, in a sub-standard manner in light of his service. Then investing so much time to see that he is being treated and cared for properly to then be gouged for a Coke. When one was in combat Coke was free.
    If I had been in her situation I am not sure what I would have done but I am not sure that I would have turned the other cheek.
    Remember this incident and the myriads of other incidents before this when we go to the polls in November.

  2. Larceny and disturbing the peace seem like appropriate charges in this case. Both are misdemeanors, and will result in her paying a fine. Jail time is very unlikely. Also, since when is someone allowed to bring in their own cup, fill up a soda, and expect a refill price? If you look at the case details, she brought in her own cup and filled it up, expecting the refill price. Seems like they finally caught her at her own game, and she got upset.

  3. People who have the means and ability admit conspiring to assassinate Senator Obama, and the federal prosecutor won’t charge them! A woman spills coke and… sh*t.

  4. This makes U>S> Attorney, Tom Moss, look like a total jerk..but this is just par for the course in this administration…. The lack of compassion for our Veterans and their family members never fails to amaze me..
    The total waste of government money…going after this ‘coke pourer’….rather than doing something about the illegal immigrant problem, for example, shows the arrogance and ignorance we have had to deal with—our ‘leaders’… sickening…

  5. rafflaw, Bob and CroMM,

    I almost didn’t put that first sentence in because, even though I still stand by it, it is the least important aspect of what happened and of what I was saying. I hope you will get a chance to read all of what I said because I certainly agree that this was NO cause to call the police or for charges and I worry greatly about this having been made a criminal offense.

  6. What this story is to me is a sign of the new penal society we’re creating. Now, everything is a crime. Everything needs the police.

    So the lady spilled a coke on the counter.

    So what?

    Big whooopdy doo.

    So you grab a handiwipe and get on with your day. This is the VA, right?

    Things going so well at the VA that our tax dollars have time for some simpleminded manager to spend his day launching an investigatiuon to find some sick old mans daughter?

    And prosecute her for it?

    People need to grow up and get on with their lives. Not everything requires calling the police.

  7. Bob, Esq.,
    I do remember how bad the “New Coke” was. Jill is right to say that she shouldn’t have spilled the Coke, but the response was incredibly over the top. I wonder if this prosecutor is related to the cafeteria lady. Nothing else makes sense unless it was a terrorist coke.

  8. This is what happens when the Justice Department is taken over by Regent University School of Law graduates.

  9. “There was no need for her to dump the coke on the counter, creating extra work for the cafeteria staff.”

    I bet you wouldn’t have said that twenty years ago and it was “New Coke” she was spilling in protest; now would you?

  10. So bush trashes our constitution, tortures and kills people, but the Justice Department does nothing.

  11. There was no need for her to dump the coke on the counter, creating extra work for the cafeteria staff. That being said much worse judgement occurred by the “manager” who did nothing but escalate the whole thing, all of which could have been avoided by telling her, this time it’s $1.50 but after this we need to charge the full amount for refills. In other words, he could have acted like a manager instead of a jerk.

    The really scary part of this is U.S. Attorney showing a complete lack of judgement and reality testing by charging her. I do want to ask, what the hell is going on in this country? This administration is using it’s powers to sheild itself from all kinds of wrongdoing and it is clearly on the attack against the people. I think they are sending “the people” a message–that being, we will come after you for anything, so don’t step out of line. I think that was loud and clear at the conventions and it’s clear with this charge. Stay quiet, stay obediant or you will be targeted.

    And before Gino gets a heart attack let me just put forward one potential crime by bush that isn’t getting the attention of a spilled coke: From Ron Suskind’s book: “Well, there was an amazing intelligence mission conducted before the invasion. A British intelligence agent…met with a head of Iraqi intelligence at a secret location…And the top Iraqi guy explained it all: why there were no weapons, what happened to them…Pretty much everything that eventually came out…what did Bush say? He said, “Fuck it. We’re going in.” (pp183-184).

    “Justice” goes to work, hammer and tongs over spilled coke and impedes every investigation over the blood of our own people spilled for a lie.

  12. This is an insane example of the arrogance of the Justice Department under the Bush regime. Can the authorities access someone’s medical records without their permission to look for someone else’s address and phone number? Isn’t there a privacy concern or was the information uncovered through a NSA wiretap?? I would like to hear more about the outcome of this case.

  13. Clean it up and quit whining, you babies.

    If you’d told me I HAD to buy that product, I’d have done worse than pour it out. It would start with my middle finger, a suggestion of what you could do with the can and that if you wanted my money for that product that was offered (but not accepted or consumed) you’d have to beat it out of me.

    Then again, I have a very low tolerance level for stupid bullshit.

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