Illinois man gets 3 years in jail for repeatedly not paying restaurant tab

Anthony Malabehar (Coles County Jail photo)

Anthony Malabehar (Coles County Jail photo)

(CNN) — An unpaid $70 dinner bill — plus a record of walking out on previous meal bills — has landed an Illinois man in jail for three years.

Anthony M. Malabehar, 47, ordered appetizers, steak, lobster tail, and a Mike’s Hard Lemonade at the Alamo Steak House in Mattoon, Illinois. But when his server asked him to pay the bill, “He told her with a smile on his face, ‘I need to tell you a secret — I don’t have any money,'” the restaurant’s general manager, Alex Schmink told CNN.

Schmink called police, and with Malabehar and his full stomach were carted off to jail.

Coles County Assistant States Attorney Rob Scales told CNN that when the Alamo Steak House incident occurred on April 4, Malabehar had been out of jail for just one day after serving a 60-day sentence for the same crime. In February, he had eaten at another local restaurant and racked up a bill for approximately $100. On that occasion, he also told the staff he could not pay before being arrested.

Malabehar’s criminal record includes at least 13 prior convictions for theft or burglary and about 70 prior arrests for theft, Scales said.

He was sentenced to three years for theft in the Coles County jail — a longer-than-usual sentence because of his prior criminal record, Scales said. He also was ordered to pay restitution and fines.

Scales said Malabehar likely will likely serve about a year of his sentence if he is eligible for time-reduction credits.

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