The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 15, 2013

Candidate who vowed to take on 'thugs' in Montgomery arrested W/VIDEO

Associated Press

— HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — A former agriculture commissioner candidate who promised to take on the thugs and criminals in Montgomery is now facing a charge of shoplifting beer.

Republican Dale Peterson said Friday he never intended to shoplift and expects to get the charge dismissed once he explains to authorities that he was only rushing to the restroom.

A spokesman for the Hoover Police Department said Peterson was arrested Oct. 15 on a charge of third-degree theft of property. Police said employees at a Wal-Mart stopped him after he pushed a shopping cart of beer and paper towels past the cash registers without paying for the contents. The case is pending in municipal court.

Peterson, 67, said he and his wife Kathy had friends coming over to watch a football game, and he went to pick up supplies. He said he got ready to check out with less than $40 worth of merchandise, but he had to go to the restroom badly. "I had to go when I went in the store," he said.

Peterson said he rolled his shopping cart past the cash registers, parked it outside the restroom, and got stopped by store security when he emerged from the restroom. He said he never left the store, and he didn't know it was considered shoplifting "once you pass the cash registers."

Peterson's ads in the 2010 Republican primary for agriculture commissioner featured the tough-talking politician holding a rifle and promising to go after thugs and criminals in Montgomery politics. The ads went viral on YouTube, but Peterson finished third. The ads helped him become a popular speaker at Republican events and an adviser to Herman Cain in his presidential bid last year.

Peterson blamed thugs and criminals for spreading word about his arrest to keep him from making another campaign in 2014.

Peterson's charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.