September 27, 2005

Wendy’s Rewards $100,000 for Info in Finger Case

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wendy's International Inc. confirmed on Tuesday it would pay the $100,000 reward it promised for information that helped establish the origin of a piece of human finger a woman claimed she had found in a bowl of the burger chain's chili.

The reward will be split between an anonymous individual and the owner of a Las Vegas paving company where one of the two defendants facing criminal charges arising from the finger case had obtained the human flesh.

Wendy's, the third-largest U.S. burger chain, offered the reward in early April after Las Vegas resident Anna Ayala claimed she bit into a piece of finger while eating chili from one of its restaurants in San Jose, California.

Ayala and husband, Jaime Placencia, were later arrested and pleaded guilty this month on charges they planted the finger in the chili to obtain compensation from Wendy's.

Investigators determined Placencia obtained the piece of finger from a co-worker at a Las Vegas paving company operated by Mike Casey, one of the recipients of Wendy's reward.

He will split the reward with another person who wished to remain anonymous. Neither authorities nor Wendy's would release that individual's name.

"We sincerely thank these citizens for stepping forward and calling the special hotline number with information that helped investigators break open this case," Wendy's said in a statement.

Ayala and Placencia are scheduled to be sentenced in state court in San Jose on November 2 on charges that included attempted grand theft.

Ayala faces a maximum possible sentence of nine years and eight months in prison. Placencia faces a maximum possible sentence of 13 years in prison, which would include time for a number of unrelated charges for failing to pay child support.