SAN JOSE, Calif. – The woman accused of fabricating a story about finding a finger in a bowl of Wendy's (search) chili smiled, gave a thumbs-up sign and mouthed "I love you" to television camera crews during a brief court appearance on Monday.
Anna Ayala (search), 39, also shouted an enthusiastic, "Thank you, judge!" when Santa Clara County Judge Jerome Nadler set bail at $500,000. She is due back in court May 18 and remains jailed on charges of attempted grand larceny and grand larceny.
Ayala, who has maintained her innocence, faces a maximum seven-year sentence if convicted of attempted grand larceny charge in the Wendy's case, and at least another 16 months if convicted of the unrelated grand larceny charge.
Ayala said she bit down on a 1 1/2 inch-long finger fragment while dining with her family in March at a San Jose Wendy's. She was arrested last month at her suburban Las Vegas (search) home after police said they believed it was a hoax.
Authorities said the digit did not appear to have simmered in chili, and Ayala may have planted it to extort money from the restaurant chain.
Investigators have said they don't know where the finger came from. Wendy's is offering a $100,000 for information that leads to the origin of the finger.