Updated:CHAMBLEE, Ga. —
Channel 2 Action News has learned the DeKalb County solicitor is dismissing criminal theft charges against a driver who plugged his electric car into an outlet at a public school.
Chamblee Police Chief and City Manager Marc Johnson told Channel 2's Jodie Fleischer he agrees with the prosecutor's decision to drop the charges, but he said this should spark an important debate about whether stealing four cents worth of electricity is in fact stealing.
"To not do it and not say it's wrong implies, well then the entire neighborhood can go up there and start running extension cords," Johnson said.
Johnson said his officer was trying to do the right thing when he charged Kaveh Kamooney with theft, after catching him with his electric car plugged into a wall outlet at Chamblee Middle School.
"They may be helping the environment, but power isn't free and they can't just go plug in anywhere they want to. They need permission," Johnson said.
Kamooney doesn't see it that way. It turns out the short time he plugged in while watching his son's tennis lesson only cost the county 4 cents. The arrest warrant estimated $10 to $25.
After 11 days of deliberating over this, they didn't bother finding out.
Kamooney was arrested 11 days later and spent more than 15 hours in jail. They spent at least $1,000 just in processing him in and out of the jail.
His attorney called the DeKalb County solicitor to discuss how much more it would cost taxpayers to take the case to trial.
"She laughed. She knew exactly which case I was calling about and that her office was dismissing the case," said defense attorney Bob Rubin.
Kamooney hopes it raises awareness about the low cost of electric cars. The chief agrees.
"I have no objection, I think it needs to be dismissed," Johnson said.
But he points out while most misdemeanors cost more to prosecute than the cost of what's stolen, that doesn't make stealing OK.
"I think of my grandmother who used to steal Sweet and Low out of the little restaurant things, and could she have been arrested for that, maybe technically she could have, would it have been the right thing to do? No," Johnson said.
Kamooney said he's considered suing the city of Chamblee because of his time in jail and some comments the chief made after the case went viral, but he's hesitant about wasting taxpayer money, so he's still weighing his options.