Deli Worker Charged With Felony For Eating Slices Of Lunch Meat

5b2d7a23188e5.imageThere is a curious criminal case out of Bolivar, Ohio where a grocery store employee was charged with felony theft worth $9,200.  What is different about this case is that the almost $10,000 theft was composed of individual slices of lunch meat over the course of eight years at Giant Eagle. 

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the employee was stealing three to five slices a day to eat for lunch.  That is still a heck of a lot of lunch meat.  Even assuming a high price of $9 per pound, that would mean over 1022 pounds or roughly 128 pounds per year.  That is 2.46 pounds a week or about a half-pound per workday.  That would seem unlikely if it were truly a few slices a day.

I confess I am skeptical on the amount absent some other evidence of a meat mania.

37 thoughts on “Deli Worker Charged With Felony For Eating Slices Of Lunch Meat”

  1. The worst offense that we have here is some city ordinance violation. It is probably not even a misdemeanor to eat 2 cents worth of bacon that you just cooked while at work. The prosecutor can not make two small bites into a felony. Or a thousand small bites over the course of 8 years. The prosecutor needs to be charged with filing fake charges and be given time in jail with no bacon or sliced food to eat.

  2. So, what if an employee took one toothpick every day, and after 40 years had a log cabin?

    Also reminds me of the Johnny Cash song “One Piece at a Time.”

  3. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: My first question is whether any of you on this panel of 36 potential jurors has ever worked at a restaurant or deli counter which served bacon or slices of meat? I see a show of 25 hands. Of you 25 folks, have you ever eatern a piece of bacon or sliced meat while at work? Did you have to ask the boss in order to do so? If not did you think it was ok? How did someone food test the bacon to see if it tasted ok? By eating it right?
    This human here is accused by this mean prosecutor over there of committing felonies for eating bacon over the course of 8 years.
    Would any of you on the jury panel favor prosecuting the prosecuor for bringing this false and fraud charge against my client? Should the prosecutor be lynched without a trial?
    Alll in favor hold up a right hand.

    1. Liberty2nd – Mr. Deli Manager, have you ever taken a piece of sliced meat for yourself? Or given away to customers? How much have you eaten each day? Remember, others on your staff will be testifying. Have you eaten more or less, including cheeses, than the defendant? On what do you base your estimate?

    2. Yeah, this isn’t making much sense to me, either. The deli slicer usually discards the first cut, anyway, probably because it would be dry. It was the deli worker’s prerogative to eat those slices that would have gone into the trash.

      I would fire someone for filching food for personal use, IF it was against company policy, but I wouldn’t have him arrested for a couple of slices of meat a day. The most likely amount would have been no more than half that in the suit, or $4600. Who sends someone to jail for eating on the job? Stealing entire hams or beef shoulders would be another matter, and a significant loss.

      These types of losses can indeed be a death by a thousand cuts, when it happens from top to bottom, multiple sources and multiple employees. That is a problem of business management and efficiency. Most businesses have these small bleeds all over, in one form or another. An executive would step in an start overhauling, on a larger scale, or a new manager would do the same on the level of a deli.

      If someone was warned not to eat the food, and he does it anyway, then you fire him. Most restaurants and delis have employee discounts. If he took it further to filching, I still wouldn’t have him arrested. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

      If he did get arrested, then the only fair sentence would be him working off his debt.

  4. Doesn’t this open a huge can of worms for Big Business, which routinely overcharges and outright cheats customers daily? The Giant Eagle chain, at least in Oho, ought to be watched very carefully and its records subpoenaed for such incremental thefts and fraud, and charged accordingly. I’m sure it would be possible to hang a grand larceny count on them, if the local prosecutors there are willing to bring charges against an employee for swiping five slices of lunch meat a day over eight years.

  5. “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care only for oxen?”

  6. It’s apparent this is an aggregation of misdemeanors into a single felony charge under the same scheme, plan, or design doctrine. I am curious if they could consider such an aggregation if they bring the statute of limitations into their math. If each year’s worth of damage did not amount to a felony in aggregate then would the misdemeanor level on the state’s limitations of action statute make it impossible to aggregate this to the final felony charge?

  7. Most jurisdictions I worked, the total value of the thefts would be charged as a single crime – often as embezzlement since the person was in a position of trust as an employee.

    The total is probably the result of one, or a combination of, two different aspects of the interview by the loss prevention manager and how it was presented to/by the media.

    (1) Generally in a case like this, once the interviewer believes the person is ready to confess, a question like, “Let me ask you, what was the very first time you ate some lunch meat without paying – it wasn’t on your first day was it?” A ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ are both (usually) an admission of guilt, as an innocent person would (again, usually) reply something like, “I’ve never done that.”

    Once the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ has been obtained, the interviewer will support the admission with something like, “Great, from the investigation that’s what it looked like!” At this point, it usually won’t be long until the person is basically going to come pretty clean. The interviewer starts obtaining estimates of what was stolen, how often, and over how long a period. The interviewer will seek to support these numbers through details, but also ask things like, “Overall how much do you think you owe the company?” If the number is substantially higher than the estimate, the interviewer will begin probing again. If the number is lower, the interview will leverage the likely lie to re-engage and dig for details.

    Some interviewers lose patience or confidence before substantiating as well as they can. They simply present the figures to the person and ask them to initial and sign where needed. You can end up with really weird numbers if you aren’t trying hard to get the truest possible picture of the thefts.

    (2) It’s possible the news story isn’t presenting the full details. It sounds funny to say she stole almost $10k of meat perhaps. Maybe that’s how the police represented it. However, in a case like this, interviewers would often rip a page from cognitive memory interviewing technique, and start asking the employee to walk around the store in their mind. Up and down each aisle. “What have you ever taken from the candy aisle? Okay, now we’re on the beauty aisle, what from there?” In short, the actual value given may cover far more than just lunch meat.

    For what it’s worth, most private sector interviewers these day won’t be interviewing an employee until they have obtained substantial evidence of a crime. Video was almost always a requirement for me in my last position. Although corporate loss prevention cultures can vary wildly. I once worked for a large pharmacy chain that *required* me to interview every employee in a store that missed its shrink target. Whether I had any cause to believe they were a problem or not.

    1. Mespo, I have a tremendous respect for your contributions here. But you have sorely let me down by treading into these foul waters…

      But yes, someone needed to say it!

    1. I agree with Anonymous. it’s 2.46 pounds/week. Let’s assume the worker helped herself to the fanciest cold cuts in the store each time, costing $6/pound. She’s on the hook for $14.76 a week, or $768 a year. Over eight years, I get $6,144 worth of meat.

      Unfortunately, “adversarial possession”, which allows real estate to be stolen in cases where owners don’t evict squatters in a timely fashion, doesn’t apply here. While I’m not a big fan of shoplifters, it almost seems right to say to the store “hey, if you can prove she was ripping you off for eight years, why didn’t you stop it the first year?” Which is what i hope her defense attorney asks in court.

      1. Jean Lafitte – if you were a shopper you would be “grazing”. I would love to see the spreadsheet to see how they got to the figure they did.

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