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Cameron County "fajita bandit" sentenced to 50 years in prison

A Cameron County Juvenile Detention Center employee accused of stealing more than $1.2 million worth of faijtas pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Friday. (Photo source: Cameron County Sheriff's Office)

A former Cameron County Juvenile Detention Center employee who stole more than $1.2 million worth of faijtas over nine years pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Friday.

Gilberto Escamilla was fired in August and arrested after authorities obtained a search warrant and found packages of the Tex-Mex food in his refrigerator. Investigators determined Escamilla would intercept county-funded food deliveries and deliver them to his own customers. The scheme imploded when he missed work one day in August for a medical appointment and a delivery driver showed up with 800 pounds of fajitas, but officials said the juvenile department didn't serve fajitas.

While Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz says he's pleased with Friday's sentencing, at the end of the day, Saenz says, taxpayers are still out $1.2 million.

"A lot of the taxpayers are going to say, 'Well fine, 50 years in the penitentiary, but where is the 1.2 million?'" Saenz said. "Although we’re pleased with the recommendation, we’re still very not pleased with the result. What happened? What brought us here?"

Saenz says the grand jury had a lot of questions on the case that centered around how something like this could fly under the radar. The grand jury saw around seven witnesses, according to Saenz.

Saenz is demanding changes be made to the policy to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

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