On Friday, the news broke that Gilberto Escamilla, also known as the Fajita Bandit, had been handed a sentence of 50 years in prison for his near-decade-long fajita scam. Fans and admirers were saddened.
Escamilla’s escapades came to an end in August, when a delivery truck carrying 800 pounds of fajitas arrived at the Darrel B. Hester Juvenile Detention Center in San Benito, Texas, according to the Brownsville Herald. The driver called the kitchen to ask where he should unload the fajitas, and the woman who answered the phone told the driver that the center did not serve fajitas. Confused, the driver told her he had been delivering fajitas there for nine years.
Unfortunately for Escamilla, who was working at the facility at the time, he had taken the day off to go to a medical appointment and wasn’t there to intercept the delivery. Otherwise, things would have continued as they had for nearly a decade, with him placing orders of meat with county funds and reselling it to, often enough, regular customers who preordered.
Police searched Escamilla’s house and found packages of fajita meat in his refrigerator. Ultimately, investigators concluded that he had stolen more than $1.2 million through the scheme. Escamilla confessed and pleaded guilty to his charges.
“It was selfish,” Escamilla said while testifying, according to the Brownsville Herald. “It started small and got bigger and out of control.”
Escamilla was convicted under the charges of theft by a public servant, a distinction Texas makes that added to what would otherwise still be a first-degree felony. According to Texas Monthly:
The theory behind that is that theft committed by a private individual harms the person or people who were stolen from; but theft by a public servant harms the taxpayers who pay their salary, and harms society at large by eroding trust in those who’ve agreed to serve us. In cases where a public employee is accused of stealing less than $300,000, charges involving public servants using their official positions to facilitate the crime are automatically escalated to the next-highest level of felony. In Escamilla’s case, the value of the meat he stole meant that it was already the highest class of felony—which helps explain why his sentence was so high.
Escamilla, 53, was also ordered to pay back the cost of the fajitas.