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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006, 21:01 GMT
Jail for US 'chilli finger' pair
Anna Ayala leaves a San Jose, California courtroom after pleading guilty
Ayala faces up to nine years in jail over the chilli finger scam
A couple who planted a human finger in a bowl of chilli in the hope of gaining compensation from Wendy's fast food chain have been jailed in California.

Anna Ayala, 39, was sentenced to nine years and her husband Jaime Placencia, 43, will serve 12 years, four months.

Ayala's false allegation was said to have cost the third-largest US burger chain $2.5m (1.4m) in lost sales.

The woman had claimed she had bitten into the finger at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, California, in March 2005.

Investigators later found the finger belonged to construction worker Brian Rossiter, who had lost it in an industrial accident and sold it to Mr Placencia for $100.

Forensic tests

Ayala gave a tearful apology to her friends and Wendy's employees before she and her husband were taken into custody by baliffs at the San Jose court.

"Greed and avarice overtook this couple," said Superior Court Judge Edward Davila, adding that the pair had "lost their moral compass".

The two pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to file a false insurance claim and attempted grand theft with damages exceeding $2.5m (1.4m)

Forensic tests showed that Ayala had not bitten the finger as she had claimed.

And police documents revealed she had sued a number of corporations in the past, sometimes settling out of court in return for a payout.

The fast food chain always insisted that the finger did not originate at one of its establishments as no staff had lost a digit and no suppliers had reported any accidents involving hands.

It said it had to sack employees because of the loss in sales as a result of the negative publicity.

See the couple apologise in court

US arrest over chilli finger case
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