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Gun-toting Alabama politician arrested for swiping cashews

Dale Peterson, a tough-talking, rifle-brandishing Alabama man who won Internet fame with some colorful political campaign ads, has been charged with stealing for a second time — this time accused of helping himself to cashews.

Peterson was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a Sam’s Club in the city of Hoover. Store security saw him take a can of the nuts off a shelf, eat some and return the can without paying for it, police Capt. Jim Coker told NBC News.

On Twitter, Peterson said it was a mistake — “It wasn’t right, but it wasn’t intentional” — and suggested that political enemies and reporters were out to get him. The arrest was originally reported by Yellow Hammer, an Alabama politics blog.

In October, police said Peterson pushed through a Walmart checkout line without paying for beer or paper towels. Peterson said he simply needed to use the restroom, which was past the checkout, The Birmingham News reported.

Peterson ran for state agriculture commissioner in 2010. In ads, he wore a cowboy hat and pledged to go after “thugs and criminals.” He also accused opponents of stealing his yard signs.

He lost the Republican primary to the eventual winner, John McMillan. In a later ad endorsing McMillan, Peterson fired a rifle in the direction of an overalls-wearing thief who was about to steal a McMillan sign. Peterson also campaigned for Herman Cain during the Republican presidential primaries last year.


As for the alleged cashew caper, Peterson said on Twitter that he had bought $700 worth of merchandise at the Sam’s Club, just not the cashews.

He also retweeted a comment from someone who accepted his explanation but suggested he let his wife do the shopping from now on.

Peterson was booked into the Hoover jail and released later on $1,000 bond, Coker said. He is awaiting a court date.