Illinois Man Allegedly Put Sewing Needles in Packaged Meat

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Image: Various cuts of beef and pork are displayed for sale in the meat department at a discount market in Arlington, Va. on Nov. 2, 2013.
Various cuts of beef and pork are displayed for sale in the meat department at a discount market in Arlington, Va. on Nov. 2, 2013.J. Scott Applewhite / AP, file

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A 68-year-old Illinois man was jailed without bond after being accused by federal prosecutors of inserting sewing needles into packaged meat "just for the hell of it" at a grocery store in his hometown at least seven times over more than a year. The criminal complaint filed Wednesday against Ronald Avers said one buyer of boneless chuck roast at the Shop 'n Save store in Belleville bit into one of the needles, and a needle slipped into a steak stuck another customer.

Avers, who made a brief court appearance Thursday on the seven tampering counts, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine, was ordered jailed pending a scheduled detention hearing Monday. "'Every now and then I would stick one in a hamburger,'" FBI Special Agent Daniel Cook quoted Avers as saying before the man expounded, "'Mostly hamburger, a couple of times I did it with a roast, maybe a pork chop every now and then.'" Avers insisted he had no justification for such tampering, calling it a "stupid idea," Cook wrote. Online court records show that Avers has a history of traffic offenses but no previous criminal background.

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— The Associated Press

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