Gilberto Escamilla, a former employee for Juvenile Justice Department in Cameron County, Texas, set himself up a lucrative side business selling fajitas to private customers. There was only one problem, those fajitas were taken by Escamilla at the cost of Cameron County taxpayers.
For nearly a decade Escamilla added tortillas, meats, and vegetables to the food service orders for inmates housed at the Juvenile Justice Department. Taking the items home, Escamilla would stuff his refrigerator full of the plundered products and deliver it when his own customers placed their orders. The operation would probably have continued to run smoothly, as it had for the last nine years, if Escamilla hadn’t taken a sick day.
On August 7, 2017, Escamilla informed his employer that he had to take the day off for a doctor’s appointment. The woman who would fill in for Escamilla was shocked when the food service distributor called to confirm a delivery for 800 pounds of fajita meat. The woman told the company that there had to have been a mistake since they did not serve fajitas to their inmates. The caller informed the woman that they had been making similar deliveries to the kitchen for the past nine years.
Speaking with a supervisor about the suspicious deliveries an investigation was opened. The following day when Escamilla returned to work he was confronted about the matter. Escamilla admitted that he had been stealing the items for nearly a decade, costing taxpayers an estimated $1.2 million. He would be fired and placed under arrest on August 9, 2017.
In a statement published in the Brownsville Herald, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Rose Gomez of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department said, “The Juvenile Justice Department is working closely with the Auditor’s Office to institute procedures, controls and safeguards to avoid a recurrence of this type of situation. The Department expects that wrongdoers will be punished and assures that procedures and protocols have been established. The Department will continue to strive to provide necessary and appropriate care, custody and protection of those juveniles in its custody as well as protection of public moneys.”
Escamilla has been charged with first-degree felony theft. If convicted he could be facing a maximum of 10 years in prison.