Thursday, January 19, 2006

One Stiff Finger 

The husband-and-wife perpetrators of the Wendy's chili-con-dedo hoax draw nine-year sentences and a $21 million fine:
"Greed and avarice overtook this couple to the point where they lost their moral compass," Superior Court Judge Edward Davila said. In a separate ruling, Placencia received an extra three years and four months -- making his total sentence more than 12 years -- for failing to pay child support.

The couple pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to all charges, including attempted grand theft and making a fraudulent insurance claim. Both apologized Wednesday in court, with the 40-year-old Ayala sometimes in tears, but the judge ended up sentencing each to only eight months less than the maximum.

Davila also ordered the couple to pay $21.2 million in restitution to Wendy's International, nearly $500,000 to JEM Management, which owns the Monterey Road Wendy's where the incident occurred and seven other San Jose Wendy's, and $170,605 to Wendy's employees for lost wages. Several employees told the judge the scam had cost them money and made them the butt of jokes, not only from late-night talk show hosts, but from friends.

Cook Hector Pineda said he had been preparing chili at the restaurant for more than a decade, but people began accusing him of something he didn't do.

Jose Pacheco said he was the clerk who sold the chili to Ayala. "Ms. Ayala screamed at me and asked me who I killed to get the finger."
There are several other victims of their own greed and avarice -- the names Lay, Skilling, and Abramoff spring to mind -- who stand accused of bilking their customers and investors out of untold millions. We wonder whether any of them will wind up facing nine years of hard time, as did the lady who claimed to find a finger in her chili.

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