Man Fakes Seizures to Get Free Food; Gets 5 Years in Prison

By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 03, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Baltimore man notorious for faking seizures to escape paying his check had a hefty prison sentence put on his plate.

Andrew Palmer, 47, was sentenced to five years in prison after years of peddling his dine-seizure-and-dash routine around Charm City. The Baltimore Sun reports that his latest act, refusing to pay $89 at a restaurant called Oliver Speck's last fall, was the one that may have him spending years in prison.

How did prosecutors manage to get Palmer five years for a dine-and-dash?

Long History of Scamming Restaurants

Assistant State's Attorney Scott Richman has been after Palmer for years, convicting him dozens of times for petty theft for his eating and seizing routine. But Palmer never spent more than a few weeks in jail at a time.

Theft laws are often divided into sentencing categories based on the value of the goods or services stolen by the defendant. In Maryland, theft of goods or services of under $100 is a crime eligible for a maximum of 90 days in jail. Palmer's various dine-and-dashes were always for amounts just under $100, ensuring that most judges would sentence him for only a few weeks in jail at a time.

Prosecutors eventually attempted to string these petty thefts together as one conspiracy in 2010, getting him 18 months in prison, reports the Sun.

However, Palmer kept getting arrested for refusing to pay for his food. Baltimore's WJZ-TV reports that Palmer's rap sheet includes 90 arrests, mostly for scamming restaurants. Many Baltimore restaurants began putting his picture up on social media to warn other owners.

How Did Palmer Get a 5-Year Sentence?

In order to keep Palmer off the street a bit longer, prosecutors got a bit creative with his latest charge.

Maryland law allows for a greater punishment when a theft is valued at "under $1,000" versus "under $100" -- although technically, all thefts under $100 are also under $1,000. The Sun reports that judges in the past have rejected this interpretation, claiming that laws should be interpreted to give preference to specific rules over general ones.

But on Friday, Judge Theodore B. Oshrine agreed with prosecutors, allowing for a more severe theft charge. Counting this as Palmer's third severe theft charge, he was eligible for up to five years in prison, and Judge Oshrine gave him the maximum.

Public defenders will be appealing the ruling, but Palmer may have gotten his last free meal for a while -- outside prison, that is.

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