Forbidden snack on Metro comes with $190 tab

September 24, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer

The $1.53 Egg McMuffin that Francis Jerome Breen ate on a Metro train ended up costing him $190 and a police record.

Mr. Breen, of Cockeysville, went to the Cockeysville Precinct station Thursday night after hearing that Baltimore County police had a warrant for his arrest for failing to appear in court to answer the original McMuffin charge.

He had to pay a $70 fine for eating the sandwich on the train, $100 for failing to appear in court and $20 for court costs.

"I was pretty surprised," the 46-year-old graphic artist said yesterday. "When I showed up at the precinct . . . they placed me under arrest and handcuffed me to a bar. I never thought it would come to this."

This all began innocently with an Egg McMuffin in February.

Grabbing a quick bite to eat on the way to an Owings Mills business meeting, Mr. Breen was just finishing the popular McDonald's breakfast fare when a Mass Transit Administration police officer wrote him a $70 ticket for consuming food in a transit vehicle.

People can be fined up to $70 for eating or drinking on public transportation vehicles, said Dianna Rosborough, MTA spokeswoman.

"I thought the ticket was pretty expensive at the time, but I didn't think much of it at first," Mr. Breen said. "I was going through some money problems at the time . . . meeting the rent and stuff, so I thought I would just pay for the fine later when I had the money."

However, what started out as a bad day got worse in March when his procrastination landed him a summons to appear in court. Mr. Breen decided to ignore that, too.

"I still didn't have the money at the time so I decided not to go," he said. "I said to myself, 'What are they going to do? Arrest me?' "

That's exactly what happened. When he showed up with $50 to pay for part of the fine, he was charged, processed and fingerprinted.

"They were really nice about it," Mr. Breen said. "My wife and my 3-year-old son came with me, and when he saw me arrested he started crying, 'Daddy's in jail, Daddy's in jail.' Well, the police kept reassuring him that his dad would be OK and then they gave him doughnuts."

"The only thing I did worry about was having to spend the night in jail because I didn't have the money to pay the fine," he said. "I think the police thought the whole thing was pretty ridiculous."

Luckily for him, his wife, Alesia Newman-Breen, promptly drained the family bank account, grabbed the week's food allowance and paid his fines after he was taken to a court commissioner in Towson. He was released around 10 p.m. Thursday.

"We just had the warrant out for his arrest," said E. Jay Miller, county police spokesman. "We tried to make it as convenient as possible since it was just a misdemeanor. . . . He didn't appear before court, which is shame on him."

Ms. Rosborough said Mr. Breen's main problem wasn't eating on the train, it was deciding not to pay the fine and not to appear in court.

"The situation regarding Mr. Breen really rests with the judicial system and himself now," she said.

Mr. Breen said he learned a lesson: "Don't eat Egg McMuffins on the train."

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