He’d been accused of pulling the seizure act repeatedly at multiple restaurants around the city for years, notes the Baltimore Sun, familiar to emergency responders for the kinds of medical emergencies that only showed up when it was time to pay. Restaurant owners posted his photo on the walls to warn workers about his scheme and basically, everyone was on to him.
The last accusation seems to have been the breaking point, after police charged him with stealing $89 when he refused to pay a bill last fall. A district judge sentenced him for that offense on Friday, hitting him with five years in prison.
Prosecutors were able to get him on a more serious charge than his usual fare, arguing that though the $89 is under $100, it’s also under $1,000, which puts him in the ring for a stiffer punishment. That makes it part of a legal principle called “specific over general” that says charges should fit the allegations as closely as possible.
“You have to charge the most specific statute that applies,” a legal expert tells the Sun.
His public defense team says it will appeal the sentence.
It’s been a long string of free food for the man, who has a rap sheet numbering in the hundreds of pages and spanning at least four years. Prosecutors used that laundry list in 2011 to lump a bunch of restaurant theft cases into one conspiracy charge that comes with a longer sentence, 18 months.
“I said, ‘We have to get this guy more than 90 days. That just doesn’t faze him,’ ” the assistant state attorney told the Sun at the time of that sentencing.
When that stint in the hoosegow didn’t do the trick — he was arrested 15 more times and convicted in 13 of those cases after getting out of prison — restaurant owners just battened down the hatches and prepared for his arrival.
The meal that set things in motion this time found the man in an ambulance on the way to the hospital after one of his performances where he passed out after eating a big meal of pork chops, macaroni and cheese and lots of drinks.
On the way to the hospital, he woke up and said, “I have no money to pay for my food and beers, so I was faking,” prosecutors said.
This time the big charge stuck, with a maximum of five years in prison. The judge gave him every day of it, as well as three years of supervised probation.
“For years, this individual has preyed on our small businesses, the lifeblood of our city’s economy, and tied up vital 911 services under false pretenses. We are therefore gratified with today’s outcome and grateful to Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Richman for his good work,” State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein said.
Baltimore ‘dine and dasher’ gets bill: five years in prison [Baltimore Sun]