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article imageDisabled vet put needles in meat 'Just for the hell of it'

By Karen Graham     Aug 1, 2014 in Crime
Belleville - A 68-year-old Belleville, Illinois resident is facing up to 70 years in prison, accused of "food tampering" after allegedly inserting sewing needles into packages of meat at the local Shop n' Save supermarket.
Ronald Avers, a disabled veteran, was jailed without bond on Thursday, charged with seven counts of allegedly tampering with everything from ground beef to pork chops and steaks by inserting sewing needles into the packages over a period of about one year "just for the hell of it."
In the criminal complaint filed on Wednesday, one buyer of a boneless chuck roast purchased at the Shop n' Save store in Belleville is said to have bitten into one of the needles, and on a different date, a needle stuck into a steak bought by another customer at the same store allegedly stuck the customer. Neither party was seriously injured.
Avers, who's hooked up to an oxygen tank, would drive his pick-up truck to the store, and would use a motorized scooter while inside the Shop n' Save. Security footage allegedly shows the divorcee rolling along the meat section, fingering the packages, picking them up and appearing to inspect them, but never purchasing the items.
SuperValu, Inc. is the Minnesota-based parent company of Shop n' Save. SuperValu, Inc. Spokesman Jeff Swanson said, "With every customer that brought it to our attention, none reported needing medical attention as a result of the tampering. We have no reason to believe any tampering occurred outside of that one store."
FBI Special Agent Daniel Cook first got involved in this case when someone reported finding a needle in some beef he had purchased at Shop n' Save. About a month later, there was another needle found sticking in a pork chop by a store worker. Other people then started reporting needles. This was when Avers was spotted on video cameras messing with the meats.
He agreed to let his truck be searched, and that is where an open package of sewing needles was found. At first, Avers told authorities he used the needles when he had a rip in his clothing. He finally admitted he used the needles for other purposes. Avers is quoted as saying, “‘Every now and then I would stick one in a hamburger. Mostly hamburger, a couple of times I did it with a roast, maybe a pork chop every now and then.'” He later said it was done “just for the hell of it” and “It was stupidity. I didn’t want to hurt nobody.”
More about Illinois grocery store, Food tampering, Disabled, shop n' save, sewing needles
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