A man who got a $500 ticket for refilling a soft drink without paying for it at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston will get off with just a warning, a hospital spokeswoman said Thursday.

Christopher T. Lewis of North Charleston got the ticket at noon Wednesday after he refilled a drink without paying for it. A federal officer saw him take the drink without paying for it and gave him a ticket for shoplifting. A sign on the machine lists the prices of refills. A $25 processing fee raised the price of the infraction to $525.

Lewis told WCSC-TV that he is doing construction work at the center and never noticed the sign on the machine and has refilled drinks without paying before. He said the officer told him he was banned from the property, which Lewis said meant he couldn't keep working there.

The medical center initially responded by defending the officer.

"The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is fortunate to have a highly trained federal police force to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees," the center said in a statement Thursday morning. "As federal police, they are responsible for enforcing the law."

But later in the day, the center announced that the ticket was being dropped and Lewis was free to continue working at the property.

"In reviewing the case, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has determined a warning in lieu of a citation is sufficient in this case," hospital spokeswoman Tonya Lobbestael said. "The individual is not banned from the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center."

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.