Texas

50 years for stealing fajitas? Yes, Texas judge says, when it's $1.2 million worth

Defendant Gilberto Escamilla looks back before the start of a sentencing hearing Friday, April 20, in Brownsville, Texas. Escamilla entered two pleas of guilty for charges related to the theft of over $1 million of meats he stole and resold over two years through his position with Cameron County.
Defendant Gilberto Escamilla looks back before the start of a sentencing hearing Friday, April 20, in Brownsville, Texas. Escamilla entered two pleas of guilty for charges related to the theft of over $1 million of meats he stole and resold over two years through his position with Cameron County. The Brownsville Herald via The Associated Press

Gilberto Escamilla, a former detention worker in Cameron County, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, just got 50 years in prison for stealing fajitas.

Granted, it was a pretty high-stakes venture in the world of fajita theft.

"We feel a strong message should be sent," Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Peter Gilman said in court, according to the Brownsville Herald.

That's because while working at the Darrel B. Hester Juvenile Detention Center in nearby San Benito, Texas, Escamilla made repeated bulk orders of fajita meat over his nine years as a correctional officer, but there was just one problem with those orders.

The Darrel B. Hester Juvenile Detention Center didn't observe Fajita Friday, or serve fajitas to the young people being detained on any other day of the week, according to the McAllen Monitor.

Escamilla pleaded guilty before his sentencing Friday to theft by a public servant, in the amount of $1,251,578.

He got busted in October 2017, when an 800-pound fajita delivery was attempted on a day he took off for a doctor's appointment, the Laredo Morning Times reported. Escamilla usually received those orders, but when this order was turned away, county officials started asking questions.

That delivery was worth less than $30,000, so he was originally charged with a state jail felony level offense, but when the Cameron County DA's office started digging, the investigation found that Escamilla had been selling the meat to individual buyers he had lined up on the side for years.

It was selfish. It started small and got bigger and out of control,” Escamilla said through tears while testifying, according to KRGV. “It got to the point where I couldn’t control it anymore.”

For Escamilla waiving his right to a trial and pleading guilty, Judge J. Manual Banales dismissed one of two charges, but the sentence that concluded one of the most bizarre theft cases in South Texas history was still one spicy fajita.

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