Charges Filed Against Man Claiming Mouse In Beer
Sep. 28, 1988
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ The state has filed product tampering and extortion charges against an unemployed construction worker who claimed he found a 6-inch-long decomposed mouse in a can of Coors beer.
James Harvey, 30, claimed he found the mouse July 27. Harvey, who sought between $30,000 and $50,000 from the brewery as compensation, refused a $1,500 offer from The Adolph Coors Co. for the can and the mouse.
Separate court-ordered studies at the University of Florida and Coors headquarters in Golden, Colo., including an examination of the dead mouse, concluded the animal was placed inside the 16-ounce can after it left the brewery in May.
''We're alleging extortion,'' said Assistant State Attorney E. McRae Mathis. ''It certainly had to do with allegations of communications with The Adolph Coors Co. to seek $35,000 out of this transaction.''
Mathis said the Coors case is similar to the Tylenol-tampering case a few years ago in terms of public reaction.
He added that the case may be the first filed under a statute passed in July 1987 that strengthened penalties for tampering with a product to injure a person or company.
Mathis said Coors officials reported a 16 percent loss of sales nationwide since news reports about Harvey's allegations. Coors spokesman David Goldberg said Tuesday that the figure was lower but would not give an exact number.
Authorities believe Harvey has left Florida, but Duval Circuit Judge R. Hudson Olliff set bond of $50,000.
Harvey could face up to 15 years in prison for each of the second-degree felony charges if convicted.
The beer company would not comment, but earlier this month, Coors filed a civil lawsuit in Duval Circuit Court accusing Harvey of fraud and deceit, product disparagement, defamation and attempted theft by deception. No specific cash amount was named.