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Man could face jail time in dine-and-dash case

21-year-old pleads guilty to skipping out on $12 restaurant bill

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WARE COUNTY, Ga. – A Georgia man who could be sent to jail for skipping out on a $12 restaurant bill says the punishment does not fit the crime.

Brad Suiter's attorney and representatives with the Poor and Minority Justice Association of Georgia met at the Ware County courthouse Wednesday to file a motion in hopes of getting his sentence reduced.

"He's what I would describe as working poor,” Suiter's attorney, Kevin Gough, said. “He's a part-time employee at a restaurant, struggling to make ends meet."

Suiter, 21, said he ordered an appetizer with his girlfriend in May at a Waycross restaurant when he realized he forgot his wallet.

Embarrassed, the couple walked out on the bill but left Suiter's driver's license on the table.

Suiter eventually paid the restaurant back but was later charged with theft of services.

Suiter pleaded guilty, resulting in a collective fine of more than $1,700 and a year of probation.

That's a punishment Gough and other county leaders said is unfair because Suiter won't be able to pay the fine and could be sent to jail.

"The punishment should be commiserate with the crime, and when it's not, it is not justice and it puts pain on a family that's unnecessary, unwarranted and not in the best interest of the community,” said the Rev. Dr. Leonard Small with the Poor and Minority Justice Association of Georgia.

The restaurant manager said the restaurant dropped the charges, but police decided to move forward with the case anyway.

Gough said he hopes the sentence will get reduced and his client will have a fair chance to meet his obligations.

The Ware County District Attorney's Office has not responded to a request for comment.