Dining, Dashing, and Serving Time A Repeat-Offender Check Walker Goes to Jail

A Berlin court has sentenced a man known as "Schnitzel Stephan" to 18 months in jail for making himself scarce when it came to paying his restaurant bills.

Stephan S. loves to eat out. There's no arduous food preparation, no hours spent over a hot stove, no dirty pots or pans to scrub clean afterwards. The 43-year-old gourmand's favorite dishes are pork knuckle, lamb chops, steak and, especially, schnitzel. But the items on Stephan's nightly menu are about to become limited. Instead of ordering à la carte, he'll be forcing down whatever gruel is on offer that day in the prison mess hall.

"Schnitzel Stephan," weighing in at 160 kg (350 lb), has been sentenced to a year and a half in the big house for his habit of eating in restaurants and then making a dash for the door before the check comes. Sometimes he wouldn't even bother to run: He would just pull out an empty wallet and plead penury when it came time to pay for his Wiener schnitzel.

The unemployed truck driver had been sentenced already by a judge in 2006 for his unpaid eating binges -- and put on probation -- but the repeat offender apparently did not learn his lesson, or lose his prodigious appetite. Iris Berger, a spokesperson for the Berlin Justice Department, told Reuters the man was convicted on 64 counts of fraud.

Pecuniary damage to the restaurants where he ate and ran amounted to €3,000 ($4,100).


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