Comments about ‘Police cite Vernal man accused of paying bill with 2,500 pennies’

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Published: Friday, June 3 2011 8:00 p.m. MDT

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John Robert Mallernee
Gulfport, MS

This story is now on the "Drudge Report" web site!!!

John Robert Mallernee
Gulfport, MS

This story is now on the YAHOO! web site opening page.

Pendleton, OR

i think he should have paid the bill with susan b anthonies---after all she is noted for fighting injustices---besides much easier to carry than 2500 pennies---

wouldn't have been so disrupting to the office of course since it would be much easier to count---

Michael Sharette

This is outrageous. It may be immature and obnoxious to dump pennies out on the counter/floor of a clinic, but it is not a crime. There were no damages (disrupting business is a looong stretch), physical or otherwise.

Even more disturbing is the behavior of the police. The clinic called the cops, and when they arrived on the scene, the employees of the clinic identified the man (presumably using information garnered from his medical records), and made a big fuss about his behavior. The cops pursued him and cited him.

As you read this, you are probably sitting in front of your computer. But if I called the cops right now and told them that I just saw you speeding down the freeway at 95 mph, and they showed up at your door with a citation for traveling 30 mph over the speed limit, would that be just? Of course not. Our public servants can't just go around writing citations based on the heresay of disgruntled citizens. That's not how this works, and the police who responded should be ashamed of themselves.


It appears that we are missing the mark, here. Seems to me that this is a classic case of assault with a deadly penny (multiple counts!) with intent to pay a bill... serious by any standard...! As a civil society, we cannot tolerate this behavior! First, he pays a twenty-five dollar tab with pennies... Next, he buys a car with $1 bills... Pretty soon, he's making real estate purchases with twenties... utter chaos...! We simply must stop anyone from making purchases with money they actually have! Doesn't anyone remember that according to the "new" American way, purchases must be made with government-loaned monies (likely loaned to those who have no intention of ever repaying, or ability to repay those loans)... It's obvious that in this new world, deep debt is considered much preferable to pennies, any day... Heaven help us...!

Tom EE

Granted, dumping 2500 pennies on the counter might have upset staff or even other patients, but does it really rise to the level of disorderly conduct? Did he damage anything, speak profanities or threaten anyone? It sounds like this is a case for the ACLU to counter-sue the city, and doctor's office if they requested the citation.
What is happening to this country and the preservation of personal freedom???

Cottonwood Heights, UT

The clinic over reacted. They should have thanked him for his payment, asked him to take a seat while the counted the pennies (they could have let him sit for hours) and then after verifying that the correct amount was there.. given him a receipt and sent him on his way with a smile. He'd be the one feeling foolish. But by their reaction and getting the police involved they've got a lot of negative publicity, a reputation for having no compassion, and they are the ones looking foolish.

Better luck next time.

Lone Star Cougar
Plano, TX

Pennies are legal tender. Vernal is looking foolish around the nation. Is there a counter-suit somewhere in here? Maybe the local law enforcement head will be voted out the next election.

Advice to Vernal law enfocement - rescind the ticket and apologize asap. Bury this issue deep and hope all will forget it.


Looks like Utah has crossed the line into Police State.

1) The man (regardless of his attitude) paid in legal tender
2) It is the responsibilty of the payment reciever to verify the amout tendered
3) If the medical office wants to restrict the ability of patrons to pay in certain denominations / methods then it needs to have the policy clearly posted and printed on forms provided at time of intake.
4) To quote the President (which I am loathe to do) "The police acted stupidly"

Frankly it was a merchant client dispute that should have never had police involvement and it is a pathetic sign of the times that they called the police.


I've got a bunch of pennies I would like to send to him to help him pay the new fine. This is ridiculous. The hospital was in the wrong, he paid the bill that they said he owed. Maybe we could all send postcards to the hospital with pennies taped to them so that they could hire themselves some new staff.

Sandy, Utah

He could of at least rolled them! I kind of laughed at first. But you know... he wanted to bring attention to himself. And he got exactly what he wanted and more... a fine for his poor behavior to boot. I think what he did speaks a lot for his character.

Junction city, Oregon

A penny a day keeps the doctor away.

Salt Lake City, UT

Every time I hear about someone paying a fine in pennies, they end up throwing them all over the place, which leads to the police coming. I would like to hear about someone calmly paying a disputed bill in pennies. It is legal tender, but I can't think of a business that wouldn't put up a fight when asked to process 2500 pennies.

Excellent point on the copper pennies, phyllo!

Vernal, UT

@RBN - Dude, this is Vernal. Every day's a slow day in Vernal.

Jeffrey Wilbur
Eagle Mountain, UT

Gee, and cops wonder why the public has a general loathing and mistrust of them!

Pennies are absolutely legal tender, and the man had every right to pay with them. Just because he was proving a point is completely irrelevant to the law.

The fact that cops actually issues him a citation for this just goes to show just how ignorant and apathetic they are toward the actual laws.

All I can say is that I'm just so glad the cops took the time to deal with this dangerous criminal, instead of wasting their time with all the harmless gang members and thugs out there.

Manila, UT

My doctor is a physician at Basin Clinic in Vernal. While he is an excellent physician, I too have been exasperated by the office staff of the clinic on more than one occasion. They seem not to be well-trained in the requirements of HIPAA, and most of them could take a lesson or two in courtesy.

I had a run-in with them over billing a few months ago. They decided, 14 months after the fact, that I owed them about $100. I (and my insurance carrier) had paid each bill as it arrived. The attitude of Basin Clinic's front desk staff was that it was my responsibility to prove that I didn't owe the money, not theirs to prove that I did.

If it were not for the need for continuity with my doctor, I wouldn't go back.


It is legal currency, The bill was disputed but the guy paid anyway with cash. The police should have cited the clinic for making a false complaint.


What kind of a cop would write a citation for this? Probably one who figures he's the most important person in town and abuses his authority as a cop....oh wait, that's about 90% of the cops. This guy should fight this all the way, make a mockery of the Vernal cops until they decide to stop acting like every person is a criminal and realize they aren't nearly as important as they think they are. Can't wait for my next trip to Vernal, just so we can laugh at the cops there.

Kearns, UT

Gotta admit, kind of funny. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with Todd Gack.

But come on folks, lets be adults. If you walked into the grocery store, dumped a bucket of change all over the counter and called it good, you deserve a kick in the you know what.

You want to pay in pennies fine, buy some coin sleaves, count it out, and drop that on the counter. Don't throw a temper tantrum at the office. Act like a grown up.

West Valley, UT

Last time I checked the penny was still a form of legal tender in the United States. It's cash, they MUST accept it.

If the courts fine this guy, I hope he pays that fine in pennys as well. It's time more people started taking a stand against the ridiculousness of modern government.

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