Monday, September 12, 2005

Wendy's finger lady is guilty

Anna Ayala, 39, and Jaime Placencia, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft. The Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. claimed the scheme cost it $2.5 million in lost sales because of bad publicity.

Ayala faces up to nearly 10 years in state prison when sentenced November 2. Her husband faces up to 13 years behind bars.


Ayala claimed to have found the fingertip March 22 while eating chili with her family at a Wendy's in San Jose, California. Authorities said they suspected it was a hoax, but the story of quickly circled the globe and became fodder for late-night comedy.

A search for the finger's owner eventually led to one of Placencia's co-workers, who lost it in an industrial accident in Las Vegas, Nevada, police said.


Ayala was arrested in April in her suburban Las Vegas home and accused of trying to shake down Wendy's by filing a claim against the restaurant chain.

She later withdrew the claim as scrutiny of her find grew. Investigators found that she had filed numerous legal claims against businesses in her name or for her children.

The franchise where the finger claim was made saw an immediate 60 percent to 70 percent drop in business.... Dozens of employees at the company's Northern California franchises were laid off. The Associated Press.


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