Customer finds employee's finger in frozen custard
WILMINGTON, N.C. � A man who ordered a pint of frozen chocolate custard in a dessert shop got a nasty surprise inside � a piece of severed finger lost by an employee in an accident.
Unlike a recent incident at a Wendy's restaurant in California, no questions of truth have been raised about the finger found in a package from Kohl's Frozen Custard.
State officials went to the shop Monday, and the owner confirmed one of his employees lost part of a finger in an accident with a food-processing machine.
Wilmington television station WWAY reported that Clarence Stowers found the finger in custard he purchased Sunday night.
Stowers, who did not immediately return calls Monday from The Associated Press, told the station: "I thought it was candy because they put candy in your ice cream ... to make it a treat. So I said, 'OK, well, I'll just put it in my mouth and get the ice cream off of it and see what it is.'"
Stowers said he spit the object out, but still couldn't identify it. So he went to his kitchen, rinsed it off with water � and "just started screaming."
Stowers said he planned to contact a lawyer.
Shop owner Craig Thomas said the employee who lost the finger had dropped a bucket while working with a machine that dispenses the custard. He tried to catch the bucket when the accident occurred.
Thomas told WWAY that several employees tried to help the injured worker, and that a drive-thru window attendant apparently scooped custard from the bucket into a pint before being told what had happened.
Joe Reardon of the state Agriculture Department's food and drug division said state officials closed the shop while the food-processing equipment involved was cleaned and sanitized.
In March, a Las Vegas woman claimed she bit down on a 1 1/2 inch-long finger fragment while dining with her family at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, Calif.
Investigators have since called her claim a hoax and charged her last month with attempted grand theft related to millions in dollars of financial losses Wendy's has suffered since news of her claim broke.
Wendy's Finger Traced to Woman in Custody
May 13, 2005 1:18 PM EDT
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The finger that a woman said she found in a bowl of Wendy's chili came from an associate of her husband who lost the digit in an industrial accident, police said Friday.
"The jig is up. The puzzle pieces are beginning to fall into place," Police Chief Rob Davis said.
He said authorities "positively confirmed that this subject was in fact the source of the fingertip."
Anna Ayala, the woman who said she found the finger, was arrested last month at her suburban Las Vegas home.
And Wendy's is having a free Frosty weekend!
My mom was right: Keep your hands to yourself!
Mother: Wendy's Finger Used to Settle Debt
May 18, 2005 11:42 AM EDT
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A man who lost part of his finger in a workplace accident was the source of the fingertip used in an alleged scam against Wendy's restaurants, and gave it away to settle a debt, his mother said.
"My son is the victim in this," Brenda Shouey said in an interview published in Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle. "I believe he got caught in something, and he didn't understand what was going on."
Anna Ayala, 39, was arrested April 21 at her Las Vegas home on suspicion of attempted grand theft for allegedly costing Wendy's millions of dollars in a plot to shake down the company by claiming she found the finger in a bowl of chili in a restaurant in San Jose.
Ayala was to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
Shouey, of Worthington, Pa., said her son, Brian Paul Rossiter, 36, of Las Vegas, lost part of his finger in December in an accident at a paving company where he worked with James Plascencia, Ayala's husband. His hand got caught in a mechanical truck lift, she said.
She said he gave it to Plascencia to settle a $50 debt.
San Jose police announced last week the finger was obtained from an associate of Plascencia, but they have refused to identify him because he is cooperating in the investigation. They did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment on the newspaper's account.
Shouey said her son had showed the severed finger to co-workers in a macho display of humor and was desperate for cash when he gave it away "to this character, James."
"My son is a happy-go-lucky guy. He thought it was cute to show" the severed finger, Shouey said. "It's like a man thing."
Shouey declined to give details of how the finger was preserved or whether Rossiter knew why Plascencia allegedly wanted the finger. She said her son told her of his role only this week and is keeping a low profile after undergoing intense police questioning.
Plascencia was arrested earlier this month on unrelated charges of failing to pay child support in a previous relationship.
So Brian Rossiter, has (had) a well-manicured, woman's finger, as was first reported when the caper commenced? Of course, in light of the Newsweek technically correct report, I don't imagine that whomever first broke this finger story had to include all the facts, either, heh-heh.
aaaahhhhwwwwww. Now that is cute. Ranks right up there w/baby and puppy pictures.
Tell me this. I have next to no civil and even less personal injury/worker's comp experience, but I'm thinking if someone loses a finger on the job, he or she is fixing to get a little $$$. And I'm also thinking that this might just hurt his case a little.
He was just mitigating his damages. Come to think of it, when I went to catholic school, we were taught that if one "mitigated his damages," he had to go to confession.
Did he lose his well-manicured woman's finger or not? If he did, and it was on the job, does what he did with it after it was lopped off, change the fact that it was "on the job"? If I'm run over by a DWI and sent to the other side of Jordan, is the drunk any less guilty (or less subject to probation) just because my old war buddies want to sell my lifeless body to a carnival to put in a sideshow as "Banjo player with tread marks and fender impressions on his pale flesh" ?
Wow, A.P. that's a great first line for the song I'm writing about probation. I'm going to need a bongos player and an electric xylophone to make it sound right though.
I thought I had somebody for you, Phillip, but the only electric xylophonist I know is in Italy getting a collagen treatment.
This one has a better ending:
Victim Bites Criminal, Supplying Evidence
ALBANY, Ga. (AP) A sexual assault victim provided authorities with DNA evidence against her attacker by biting off a piece of his finger and holding it in her mouth until she could contact police, officials said.
Faced with the evidence, Demetrius Clyde, 33, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of false imprisonment, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit rape, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping and aggravated sexual battery stemming from the May 2003 attack.
SAN JOSE, Calif. � A couple who planted a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili in a scheme to extort money from the fast-food chain were sentenced today to prison terms of nine years and more than 12 years.
Anna Ayala, 40, who said she bit into the digit, was sentenced to nine years in state prison. Her husband, Jaime Plascencia, 44, who obtained the finger from a co-worker who lost it in a workplace accident, was sentenced to more than 12 years.
The pair pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to conspiracy to file a false insurance claim and attempted grand theft with damages exceeding $2.5 million.
Ayala said she retched March 22 after biting into the fingertip while dining with her family at a Wendy's in San Jose.
Although authorities suspected a hoax � in part because the finger was not cooked � word of the stomach-turning find quickly spread around the world. The Dublin, Ohio-based fast food chain claimed it lost $2.5 million in sales because of the bad publicity, and dozens of workers at the company's Northern California franchises were laid off.
No Wendy's employee was missing a digit at the San Jose restaurant, and no chili suppliers reported finger injuries at their plants.
In April, Ayala was arrested at her suburban Las Vegas home. Investigators found a pattern of legal claims she brought against businesses in her name or for her children.
A lengthy search for the finger's owner eventually pointed to one of Plascencia's co-workers, who lost it in an accident at the paving company where they worked, police said.
Plascencia bought the tip of Brian Rossiter's right ring finger for $100 and told him what he and Ayala were plotting, according to court documents. Rossiter later told police the couple offered him $250,000 to keep quiet.
During a recorded jailhouse phone call, Ayala bragged about how other inmates were asking for her autograph, according to a transcript of the call.
Wonder what that would bring on E-Bay?
Maybe she is doing her autographs from this website...
Debate heats up after alleged roach sandwich
11:40 AM CST on Tuesday, January 24, 2006
By GARY REAVES / WFAA-TV
It was supposed to be a quick after school snack, but instead a family said it turned out more like a scene from an episode of "Fear Factor."
A family claimed it ate fast food sandwiches filled with baby roaches.
However, the real debate began after the company quickly offered a cash settlement that Linda Watson said made her even angrier.
Watson said she drove up to a KFC drive-through window in Waxahachie and came home with the surprise.
"They were all in the sandwich [and] they were alive crawling in the napkin," she said.
Her daughter, Alicia Lewis, said she ate some of the food before she saw the roaches and what she ate made her sick.
"I had diarrhea and it went on for two days," she said.
Watson kept the moldy evidence of baby roaches in her freezer, and said when she went back to complain she saw another live roach.
Health department inspectors later found two dead roaches while inspecting the same location.
"[They were] not in the food prep area," said Sonny Wilson. "One was in storage [and] the other was up closer to the drive-through window."
A pile of letters at Watson's home document negotiations with the restaurant owner's insurance company and the Watson family after the incident.
"First of all, they offered us $1,000 and I thought that was an insult for eating roaches," Watson said.
She asked for $5 million and the insurer went up to $5,000.
While the company said they want to investigate and appease the customer, they also said they are investigating Watson as well.
"We are taking this very seriously, as we do any claims about objects in the food," said Laurie Schalow, a spokeswoman for Yum! Brands, Inc., the parent company that has more than 11,000 KFC outlets around the world. "Based on her high demands, we're not ruling anything out, including possible motive."
In a widely-publicized case last year, a woman in California claimed she found a human finger in a bowl of fast food chili. Anna Ayala and her husband, Jaime Plascencia, were later convicted of planting the finger as part of a hoax. They were sentenced to stiff prison terms last week.
Watson said her only motive is justice?at somewhere between $5,000 to $1 million.
"Because it's wrong," she said. "I didn't want to eat roaches. I just wanted to eat, and if they don't think that is wrong...They are wrong for doing that to us. It's just nasty."
In spite of the roaches, the restaurant passed its inspection, hired a pest control company and remains open.
The health department director said he would still eat at the location.
However, the only time the Watson family visits the location now is with picket signs and Watson shares her feelings about the restaurant with a car bumper sticker that reads: "KFC SERVES ROACHES, BOYCOTT KFC."
While I have sympathy if (and I emphasize "if") the roaches were in her sandwich, when did we start "deserving" $5 million just because we accidentally ate a bug?
Food detectives are on the case
When customers claim they have found something nasty in their meals, restaurants call in their investigators to carefully hunt out the truth
By Vincent J. Schodolski
Tribune national correspondent
June 16, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- When a woman claimed to have found a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili, Denny Lynch was the point man for the giant fast-food chain.
"This was grotesque, gruesome," Lynch said. An expert at damage control for decades, Lynch went to work. With the help of the local restaurant's staff and a carefully chronicled record of deliveries from suppliers along the food chain, he was able to prove that the woman was a liar.
Something similar happened when Jim Taylor went after a woman's claim that she found a mouse drowned in her soup at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant.
Borrowing a page from what could be a "CSI: Rodents" script, Taylor found scientists who could prove the mouse was dead before it landed in the soup. Clues: No soup in the lungs and a telltale broken skull.
Major fast-food chains have established rapid-response teams that are dispatched at the first hint of such claims. And the chains say they are becoming much more aggressive.
Lynch is Wendy's primary investigator. He said the chain is eager to settle legitimate claims quickly and quietly and to aggressively prosecute fraud.
Both Lynch and Taylor were reluctant to discuss specific settlements, fearing that releasing such details would encourage copycat cases.
In a legitimate case two years ago, David Scheiding found a piece of a human thumb in his chicken sandwich at an Arby's restaurant in Tipp City, Ohio.
"I was chewing on it and there was something I could not chew," he said. "I spit it out and I saw finger prints on it."
The restaurant manager apparently sliced off a piece of his thumb while shredding lettuce.
Scheiding is suing Arby's for a settlement totaling $50,000. He said the chain offered him a settlement at the time of the incident, but that he and his lawyers decided it was not enough.
Arby's would not discuss the incident in detail.
"This unfortunate and rare incident occurred at a franchised location in June of 2004," said Kathy Siefert, director of public relations for Arby's. "Arby's is committed to providing our guests with quality food in a comfortable and safe environment."
What's that on the plate?
Brandon Seinna of Niles, Ill., ordered a meal in a T.G.I. Friday's in Bloomington, Ind., earlier this year. When the food arrived, he spied what looked like human flesh on the plate.
It was, and T.G.I. Friday's had to scurry to do damage control. "A manager cut his finger while working in the kitchen," the company said in a statement. "In the rush of attending to his medical needs, the team members were unaware that a small piece of skin from the individual's finger top had fallen onto a plate, and that plate was subsequently served to a guest."
The statement went on to say that safety procedures were reviewed and that another such incident would not occur.
It is difficult to estimate how many claims like these--real and fraudulent--occur every year. Real incidents usually involve no crime and thus no police records, and restaurant chains are very reluctant to talk about them.
"It is more frequent than we like to admit," said Lynch, who declined to give exact numbers. He did say that after a claim--real or fraudulent--there are usually 20 to 30 copycat incidents within two to three weeks.
Donna Garren, vice president for health and regulatory affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said claims of body pieces in food--both real and fraudulent--are not common. Asked if they occurred several times a month, she said: "Oh no, nothing like that. These are very rare."
William Marler, an attorney who has represented clients who became ill after eating in fast-food restaurants, said companies go to elaborate lengths to prevent contamination of their food supply chains, but that these plans are not flawless.
After a legitimate claim, he said, the companies should acknowledge the problem and then get busy defending their business reputations.
"You have to get past the fact that this is not a bogus claim and you have to deal with it," Marler said. If the claim is bogus, he added, "I tell them to fight those cases to the death."
Lynch said Wendy's remains in constant contact with its suppliers and keeps detailed records that track food from the manufacturer to the restaurant. That record keeping enabled him to prove that the finger in the chili was planted. "When something happens, you have to move with urgency," he said.
Taylor said similar procedures helped him with the mouse claim.
"Cracker Barrel immediately stopped serving this particular soup in all of its locations," he said. "This precautionary measure ensured no other guests would be subjected to a similar incident while our investigation was under way."
Taylor said the restaurant in Newport News, Va., contacted corporate headquarters for help with investigating the incident, which occurred in 2004.
"The investigation showed no evidence that linked the contamination to our store, our employees or our vendor," Taylor said.
But the case did not end there. "Independent testing done on the mouse showed it sustained a fractured skull, an injury consistent with being caught in a mousetrap," he added.
Confronted with the evidence, the woman making the claim said her son might have put the mouse in the soup as a practical joke and made an offer to Cracker Barrel: Pay her $500,000 and she would make a public confession.
It was an offer Cracker Barrel could, and did, refuse. A grand jury indicted the woman and her son, who were convicted of felony conspiracy to commit extortion in April. Sentencing is scheduled for July 5.
Probably not what SW Bell had in mind when they used that jingle many years ago, but here you go. I'm sure that the quick minds here at this site have some insight into why this was done.
In hindsight, it probably would have been a better idea to send an email to his girlfriend via www.bloodyfingermail.com If you have not seen or used this site it is too funny!
June 27, 2006, 1:58PM
Texas woman gets finger in the mail from ex-beau
CORPUS CHRISTI -- A woman received a severed human finger in the mail along with a threatening letter from her ex-boyfriend that said, "This is my last chance to touch you," police said.
Corpus Christi Police Capt. John Houston said police weren't sure which finger was removed or how, but that it appeared to have been washed before it was mailed Friday.
"It was a clean cut," Houston said. "It wasn't mangled."
The 32-year-old woman filed for an emergency protective order from her boyfriend last week.
Police didn't release the name of the 34-year-old ex-boyfriend, who has not been located. He has moved to Spring, but police there could not confirm the status of the search for him.
Corpus Christi police said a previous incident of family violence was reported between the couple this month.
The man faces Class A misdemeanor charges from that incident and additional charges because of the threatening nature of the letter.
Greg, you win for strangest website of the day. Beats the official site for Rock Paper Scissors. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to send an email...
Officials Probe Finger-in-Sandwich Claim
CHOWCHILLA, Calif. [Again, in California! Coincidence?]
Health officials are investigating a woman's claim that she found part of a human finger in a Subway sandwich, an allegation reminiscent of the chili bowl finger hoax that hit a Wendy's restaurant last year.
Two health inspectors visited the Subway restaurant Thursday in Chowchilla after the woman reported finding what appeared to be a half-inch piece of a finger a day earlier, said Jill Yaeger, director of the Madera County Environmental Health Department.
The inspectors did not find any evidence that a restaurant worker had lost part of a finger, but the purported human digit was sent to a laboratory for testing, she said.
The Subway manager, Anita Munoz, said she was in the restaurant when the woman returned with what she claimed looked like a finger.
"It looked like a thick piece of fat," she told The Fresno Bee. "It doesn't look anything human to me."
Munoz said the incident would be investigated by Subway's national headquarters.
Chowchilla is about 90 miles east of San Jose, where a Las Vegas woman claimed in March 2005 that she bit into a fingertip in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant. Anna Ayala's stomach-turning claim made headlines around the world.
The claim was found to be a hoax and Ayala was sentenced to nine years in prison. Her husband was sentenced to more than 12 years for getting the finger from a co-worker who lost it in a workplace accident.
Wendy's, based in Dublin, Ohio, said it lost $2.5 million in sales because of bad publicity and had to lay off dozens of employees at its Northern California franchises.
Subway, which has more than 26,000 restaurants in 85 countries, is owned by Doctor's Associates Inc., based in Milford, Conn.
I don't think the dateline refers to a town; it refers instead to a piece of equipment. Wouldn't the "Chowchilla" be where refrigerated food would be kept? But I can see why the health department would be involved, since refrigerated, severed human anatomical parts would more properly be stored in the "Fingachilla". [Insert banjo flourish and rimshot.]
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