San Jose police police say "chili finger lady" made up new hoax

February 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The woman behind the infamous "finger in the chili" case was back in court in San Jose Friday. And she's facing a similar charge -- making up a story. But this time, there's more to it.

Even after eight years, you still hear customers talk about the made-up chili story when they eat here at Wendy's. San Jose police say they caught Anna Ayala again making another false report to protect her son. And now both of them may end up back in prison.

47-year-old Anna Ayala doesn't like the camera anymore. She backed up and covered her face with her long hair after seeing cameras in the courtroom.

This is the same person, who in 2005, went on national television to tell how she found a finger in a bowl of chili at this Wendy's in San Jose. It turned out she had planted the finger herself, which belonged to an acquaintance who lost it in an industrial accident. Ayala went to prison for four years.

Now she's in court facing similar charges -- filing a false police report and pointing the finger at someone else after it appears her 26-year-old son shot himself in the ankle.

"Any time you're trying to pin it on a live, a warm body, who's actually walking around, that's a pretty bold crime," Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

Filing a false police report is a misdemeanor. But she's also facing felony charges being an accomplice for covering for her son, a convicted felon in possession of a gun. The son, Guadalupe Reyes, came into court on crutches.

"Miss Ayala faces a maximum of four years and Mr. Reyes faces four years eight months," said Deputy District Attorney Bret Wasley. "Those are the maximums."

San Jose police say Ayala and Reyes wasted detectives' time as they conducted an investigation, only to hear the son recant while Ayala stuck by her story. An innocent man was accused of shooting Reyes.

"They gave pretty specific information to the point we actually thought we had a suspect," Sgt. Dwyer said. "We interviewed this person, we conducted various forensic testing as far as gunshot residue goes. So we treated it like the real deal."

Because of her past conviction and concerns she is a flight risk, bail was set at $150,000. Reyes was on parole and will be ineligible for bail.

Outside the courthouse, Ayala's sister Mary said they can't raise the bail money. But as family, they will stand by her.

"All I know is she's a good person and that she's my sister and that I love her and I'll support her to the end," said Mary.

Neither Ayala nor Reyes has an attorney yet. Both will appear back in court next Friday to enter a plea and to determine who will defend them.


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