A San Diego man faces time behind bars for using cleaning solution to refill beer bottles and return them to stores for a refund.
The investigation into tampering of beer began in May 2014. That’s when two beer brewing companies, Target and Walmart reported getting consumer returns for tampered or altered beer.
In all, there were 13 reported incidents of 12-packs. In each case, someone was emptying the contents of the bottles without damaging the bottle cap. Inside the bottles was some kind of soapy solution that had been dyed to make it look like beer.
“The bottle was then recapped and either re-crimped or glued with a silicone type adhesive to maintain a seal,” according to court documents.
Investigators with the San Diego District Attorney’s Office started looking into who was returning 12-packs of beer.
On October 7, 2015, a 12-pack was returned to the Target on Jamacha Road in El Cajon. When investigators looked into the person who returned the beer, they found the same customer returned beer five times between September and October 2015.
Surveillance video showed Eduardo DeJesus Cossio III returning the alcohol.
According to court documents, investigators served a search warrant at Cossio’s home on October 28 and found evidence of the beer tampering. Among the items were cleaning solution, glue sticks and glue guns.
According to court documents, Cossio told investigators he replaced the beer “using whatever cleaning solution was cheapest and sometimes experimenting with dyes."
He pleaded guilty to three felony charges of poisoning or adulterating food, drink or medicine with a special allegation of intending to defraud a company.
He’s been placed on probation and may be sentenced to a year in custody when he’s sentenced on October 7, according to a DA’s Office spokesperson.
He’s also been ordered to pay more than $59,000 in restitution.
In the initial charging document, Cossio was accused of 32 counts of returning beer between December 2014 and October 2015, at numerous stores, including several Target stores throughout San Diego County and three separate Walmart stores in Chula Vista, Logan Heights and San Ysidro.