SAN FRANCISCO – The husband of a woman accused of planting a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili faces felony charges for allegedly buying the finger to create a lawsuit against the fast food chain, authorities said Tuesday.
Jaime Placencia (search), 43, is charged with conspiracy to file a false charge and attempted grand theft with excessive damages, meaning he sought to extract a large amount of money from Wendy's, Santa Clara County prosecutors said.
Placencia's 39-year-old wife, Anna Ayala (search), is jailed on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, attempted grand theft and grand theft. If convicted of all three, she could face nearly 10 years in prison and might have to reimburse Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's, which claims to have lost at least $2.5 million in sales because of bad publicity.
Prosecutor David Boyd said Placencia "conspired with (Ayala) to commit fraud." He faces up to nine years in prison if convicted and also might have to make restitution to Wendy's.
A recently filed San Jose police affidavit says Placencia bought an injured co-worker's detached finger "and advised that he intended to use the finger to create a lawsuit by planting the finger in food at an undisclosed restaurant."
Placencia's arraignment is tentatively set for Thursday in San Jose.
His attorney, Charles Kramer, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Ayala told police she discovered the fingertip March 22 while eating with her family at a Wendy's in San Jose. Law enforcement officials have characterized he incident as a hoax.
DNA tests show the finger belonged to Placencia's co-worker, Brian P. Rossiter (search). The 36-year-old Rossiter lost the end of his finger in December in an accident involving an electronic lift near Las Vegas.
Placencia has been in custody in Las Vegas on unrelated charges of failing to pay child support.