FARMINGTON, Mo. - It’s a hefty price for a pastry: A man accused of stealing a 52-cent doughnut could face time in jail.

Authorities said Scott A. Masters, 41, slipped the doughnut into his sweat shirt without paying, then pushed away a clerk who tried to stop him as he fled the store.

The push is being treated as minor assault, which transforms a misdemeanor shoplifting charge to a strong-armed robbery with a potential prison term of five to 15 years. Because he has a criminal history, prosecutors say they could seek 30 years.

“Strong-arm robbery? Over a doughnut? That’s impossible,” Masters told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from jail. He admitted that he took the pastry but denied touching the employee. “There’s no way I would’ve pushed a woman over a doughnut.”

Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said state law treats the shoplifting and assault as forcibly stealing property. The amount of force and value of the property doesn’t matter.

“It’s not the doughnut,” Baker said. “It’s the assault.”

Masters said he didn’t even get to enjoy his ill-gotten gains: He threw the doughnut away as he fled.

[Via MSNBC]

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