The Pennsylvania Bread Squeezer
The attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates frequently defend against allegations of causing physical harm… to people. But in November of 2000, criminal defense attorney Ellis Klein, Esq., changed gears by defending the decidedly bizarre case of the “Pennsylvania Bread Squeezer.”
Bread Squeezer Accused of Causing $8,000 in Damages
The Bread Squeezer, sounding like a superhero on the lam from the Island of Misfit Toys, stood accused of causing thousands of dollars in damage to bread, cookies, and various baked goods.
For Marr, a former Senior Deputy District Attorney more accustomed to arguing about battery than batter, the case presented a novel challenge.
“The Case of the Pennsylvania Bread Squeezer” sounds like a rejected Nancy Drew adventure, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. While the trial itself was conducted in late 2000, the case of the Pennsylvania Bread Squeezer actually got its start a full three years prior. From 1997 to 1999, 37-year old advertising salesman Samuel Feldman assumed his outlandish alter ego as the Pennsylvania Bread Squeezer, and unleashed a three-year reign of terror on unsuspecting grocery stores.
By 2000, grocers had had enough. Regional mega-grocer Giant alleged that Feldman had caused approximately $8,000 in damage to their wares by crushing, squeezing, pinching, and puncturing packages of bread and cookies, rendering hundreds of packages of goods unsalable.
Marr Wins a Massive Sentence Reduction
Judge David Heckler presided over the case. Initially, Heckler ruled to delay sentencing until Feldman had undergone a psychiatric evaluation, suggesting that Feldman may be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. Upon examination, however, two psychiatrists in Las Vegas (Feldman’s home-away-from-home) determined that there was no evidence of “diagnosable mental illness.”
Upon review of surveillance tapes depicting Feldman handling various loaves, Ellis Klein submitted that Feldman had not been committing any wrongdoing, but had merely been a choosy shopper testing the bread for freshness. “Touching multiple loaves of bread does not mean that you’re damaging,” Marr argued. “Their whole case is based on an assumption that he’s acting weird, therefore, he must be the guy who did it.”
Heckler, however, was dubious. After psychological evaluation turned up a negative, Feldman was found guilty of two counts of criminal mischief at $500 apiece, and the out-of-commission Bread Squeezer was ordered to pay restitution of $1,000 to compensate for his floury misdeeds. In addition to the $1,000 fine, Heckler ordered Feldman to satisfy a term of 180 days of probation.
However, it could have been a lot worse for the Bread Squeezer.
Originally, Feldman had been accused of causing $8,000 in damage — until Ellis Klein persuaded the judge to slash those damages down to an eighth of that amount. And financial damages weren’t the only penalty Marr saved his client from. Initially, a sentence of six months in prison had been proposed; but Marr countered with a thought-provoking argument that ultimately changed the judge’s mind.
“You get wife-beaters getting probation. You get sexual offenders getting probation. Certainly, the guy damaging bread shouldn’t get anything worse than that.”
Thanks to Ellis Klein, he didn’t.
Ultimately, Feldman apologized for his actions, saying, “I do have a problem. Any time I go shopping, my wife will supervise and will be with me.”