Man gets 30 days in jail for taco scam posted in online video
LOS ANGELES (AP) ” Robert Echeverria took $15 worth of food and 15 minutes of fame from Del Taco, but now he’s paying with jail time ” and he’ll have to find his tacos elsewhere.
Echeverria and two friends filmed and posted on YouTube a free-and-easy way to score a sackful of tacos and quesadillas called, quite bluntly, “How to Scam Del Taco.”
The video had gotten more than 20,000 hits as of late Wednesday. Unfortunately for Echeverria, the viewers included police in Rialto who said the viral video provided them with one of the easiest cases they’ve ever made.
For the take ” two quesadillas with extra chicken, seven tacos, two sodas and a large order of fries ” Echeverria has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years probation, and a ban from his favorite food spot, authorities said.
In the short film made on Feb. 19, the 32-year-old Echeverria ” who is bald with a goatee and tattoos and weighs about 500 pounds according to police ” calls the Del Taco in Rialto, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, from the drivers’ seat of his sport utility vehicle.
In a friendly tone he claims to be a CEO named “Robert Kennedy” who has already spoken to the store’s manager and corporate office about some unwanted sour cream and the lack of a receipt in a previous order.
“I love your guys’ tacos,” he said.
One of his two 18-year-old co-stars, Brian Fawcett, is later shown walking into the restaurant and claiming the food. The video ends with the three men feasting and laughing.
A Rialto resident saw the video online last month and called police, authorities said.
Echeverria found himself in custody, initially arrested for felony commercial burglary and jailed in lieu of $125,000 bail.
“He was quite proud of himself there in the video, but he cried like a big baby back here,” Rialto police Lt. Joe Cirilo said.
Cirilo said the case was wrapped up quickly. Echeverria even provided a pair of personal phone numbers in the video.
“Not only do we thank him, we thank YouTube,” Cirilo said.
On Tuesday, Echeverria pleaded guilty to misdemeanor burglary and received a sentence of 30 days in jail, three years probation, and one special condition: a ban from the Rialto Del Taco.
“I tried to get him to stay away from all Del Tacos, but the judge said just the one,” Deputy District Attorney Doug Schaller said.
Schaller said Echeverria told the judge, “It’s Taco Bell from now on.”
Fawcett and the man who police said shot the video, 18-year-old Ian Roman, are free on $25,000 bail and are scheduled to appear in court on May 6.
Schaller said the two teens can expect a similar plea deal, most likely minus the jail time.
“We were fooling around,” Roman told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “We never intended it to be anything criminal. It was ridiculously blown out of proportion.”