A Texas man has been charged with felony theft, in what is being called a “bizarre” plot to steal fajitas. According to the Brownsville Herald, Gilberto Escaramilla, an employee of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department, successfully stole over $1.2 million worth of fajitas over nine years on the job.
The fajita theft plot unraveled when Escaramilla took a day off to attend a medical appointment. A delivery driver for Labatt Food Service in Harlingen, which services the Juvenile Justice Department, called Escaramilla’s office to inform them of the delivery of 800 pounds of fajitas. A coworker took the call and was rather surprised by the news – the Juvenile Justice Department doesn’t serve fajitas, she explained.
The driver informed her that he had been delivering fajitas to them for the past nine years.
The woman who took the call rushed to tell her supervisor about the conversation. The next day, Escaramilla is confronted – and admits to stealing ludicrous volumes of fajitas for the past nine years.
District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said that “if it wasn’t so serious,” one might be led to believe that it was a Saturday Night Live skit. “But this is the real thing.”
According to Fox News, Escaramilla was fired on August 8 and arrested the next day after the DA’s Office Special Investigations Unit obtained a search warrant for his house. On searching the premises, they found packets of fajitas in his refrigerator: all the evidence they needed to link him to the crime.
At the time of the arrest, the 800 lbs. fajita order was valued between $2,500 and $30,000 – a state felony. Escaramilla was sent to jail and made bond. But as the DA’s office kept digging, obtaining documents from Labatt and the County Auditor’s Office, including invoice vouchers and purchase orders, Escaramilla was linked to more and more false fajita orders. The DA’s office also uncovered several of Escaramilla’s customers – Escaramilla would set up customers on the same day he placed the orders – and those purchasers cooperated with the investigation.
Ultimately, the Special Investigations Unit concluded that Escaramilla had stolen $1,251,578. In fajitas.
Escaramilla was arrested again Tuesday on a first-degree theft felony warrant.
According to Saenz, all county juvenile justice departments are issued a menu by the state – one that doesn’t include fajitas. Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Rose Gomez of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department said that Escaramilla’s actions have led to a complete review of justice department policy. Saenz described the incident as a “total failure” of the justice department chain of authority; particularly given that Gomez’ department consistently exceeded their budget over the time Escaramilla worked for them.
“Up and down the chain of authority, people were signing off on these things. It’s upsetting because the auditor gets a detailed invoice where it states the breakdown of what’s delivered, so they should’ve seen it.”
The Cameron County Auditor, Martha Galarza, declined to comment, as the investigation is ongoing.
If convicted, Gilberto Escaramilla could face up to 99 years in prison for his fajita thievery.
[Featured Image by Marcin Jucha/Shutterstock]