There are crusades, campaigns, and goals that some people are aiming for when they decided to cross the law. But then sometimes there’s no real reason to do others harm: Federal prosecutors say a 68-year-old Illinois man stuck sewing needles into packaged meat at the same grocery store near his home at least seven times “just for the hell of it.”
He was jailed without bond yesterday, reports the Associated Press, after a criminal complaint filed Wednesday claimed that one customer who bought a boneless chuck roast at a Shop ‘n Save ended up biting into one of the needles the suspect had inserted into it.
The first needle was found by a shopper in May 2013, and the FBI says Shop ‘n Save contacted it July 9 this year about the tampering. Four months after the first incident, an FBI special agent wrote in an affidavit, a store worker discovered another needle in a package of pork chops. That led to a string of needle findings in ground beef, roasts and steaks.
The FBI says the store used surveillance video footage to identify a suspect who was seen handling meat but not buying it. Investigators approached him on one of his visits to the store and the man let them search his truck, where officials say they found an open package of sewing needles.
According to the affidavit, the suspects said he kept the needles there in case he needed them to fix pants he tore while camping. But the FBI claims he later admitted he used them for something else.
Quoting the man, the agent wrote: “‘Every now and then I would stick one in a hamburger,'” adding, “‘Mostly hamburger, a couple of times I did it with a roast, maybe a pork chop every now and then.'”
The agent says the man didn’t have a reason for the “stupid idea,” allegedly saying twice that he’d started poking the needles into meat “just for the hell of it.”
The man is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the seven counts of tampering.
SuperValu Inc. is the corporate parent of the chain, and issued a statement saying that no other customers were seriously hurt, and that the needle-inserting habit was only exercised in the meat section.
“With every customer that brought it to our attention, none reported needing medical attention as a result of the tampering,” said a SuperValu spokesman. “We have no reason to believe any tampering occurred outside of that one store.”
Any customers who bought fresh meat before July 12 from the store can get a refund or exchange it, he added.
Man, 68, allegedly put needles into packaged meat ‘just for the hell of it’ [Associated Press]