Wendy’s finger pointers plead guilty of crime

Saturday, September 10, 2005

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The notorious Anna Ayala, who caught the world’s attention by filing a lawsuit against the fast food restaurant Wendy's, for a piece of a human finger she claimed was served in her bowl of chili, pleaded guilty to all charges brought before her in the case. Her co-defendant husband, Jaime Placencia, also pleaded guilty Friday to charges they both faced for conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft.

The plea of guilt amounts to an admission the two conspired to plant the fingertip in Ayala's bowl of chili. The stage set for a lawsuit against Wendy's was met by the company's own reward of US$100,000 for information leading to the source of the finger part.

A week before yesterday’s trial, the prosecutor for Santa Clara County, Deputy District Attorney Chuck Gillingham, made it clear that the two would not be offered a plea bargain. Gillingham expressed confidence in the strength of the case against them. Wendy's International Inc. said the negative publicity generated by the Ayala claims cost the company $2.5 million in lost sales.

Ayala, 39, and Placencia, 43, remained in jail prior to the trial in lieu of $500,000 bail each. Ayala faces up to 10 years in prison, and her husband faces 13 years. Sentencing is set for November 2.

Wendy’s aggressively pursued evidence to counter Ayala’s claims. Suspicion against the claims grew as forensic evidence mounted. Ayala was later arrested in Nevada for selling a motor home to a woman who paid for it, but never got the home, because it belonged to her husband Placencia.

Ayala’s husband supplied the fingertip that was planted in the chili from a work incident involving a co-worker.