County employee grilled in massive meat heist

Early one August morning, a food delivery truck arrived at the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department in Texas, as it had so many times over the past decade, with the department kitchen's regular order of 800 pounds of fajita meat.1 Except this day was different: The driver was told the order must be a mistake because the kitchen doesn't serve fajitas. Never has.

This is how county employee Gilberto Escamilla's fajita meat scam was discovered. And all because he had taken the day off to go to a medical appointment.

While Escamilla sat in his doctor's waiting room, county employees scrambled to piece together records and ultimately discovered that over the nine-year period, Escamilla had stolen (and resold) $1.2 million in fajita meat from the juvenile justice center. When they searched his house, investigators found his refrigerator stuffed with fajita packets.

Escamilla is facing serious jail time for felony theft. District Attorney Luis Saenz wondered how to explain the theft to the taxpayers in Cameron County and noted, "If it wasn't so serious, you'd think it was a Saturday Night Live skit. But this is the real thing."


Would being hit by an out-of-control space station be considered reasonable cause?

Do you have clients who are consistently late in supplying you needed information to file a return or an extension request? Each year you must explain to them that while they might think they have a reasonable excuse, the fact that their dog was sick, their pipes backed up, or they were just feeling unfocused or depressed isn't going to be enough to have any late filing/payment penalties waived.

But this year, a reasonable cause excuse could be flying out of the sky ... literally. That's because Tiangong-1, China's out-of-control space station, may possibly hit the northern U.S., and possibly Northern California, sometime between March 24 and April 19. Evidently, the space station has been orbiting uncontrolled for almost two years.

Yes, 8.5 tons of space station debris is reentering the earth's atmosphere and no one can really predict where or when.

Experts are saying that there is no cause for concern, however. Evidently, free falling space stations, rockets, and other "space debris" entering the earth's orbit has happened before (and will likely continue to happen, given the increasing amount of space debris out there).

But according to a report by Aerospace Corporation, a California-based nonprofit research and development organization, the only known case of space debris striking a person is Ms. Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was struck by a small piece of space debris in 1996 but was not harmed in any significant way.

In an article in Newsweek, Aerospace was quoted as saying, "When considering the worst-case location ... the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot."1

Kind of like the odds of having a penalty abated for reasonable cause ... just kidding.


A Big Mac a day keeps the doctor away

Actually, make that two Big Macs — that's how many Don Gorske of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, eats each day and has since May 17, 1972.1 Don was recently in the news because he's coming up on his 30,000th Big Mac, making him the world-record holder for Big Mac eating.

But surely, you say, he must be in the poorest of health. Nope. Don claims his health is great, and he's going to keep eating Big Macs until the day he dies.

But surely, you say, he's wasted so much more money eating at McDonald's each day. Don claims that his two daily Big Macs comprise 90%–95% of his diet; most days, that's all he eats. I didn't have time to do an inflation adjusted calculation, but at the current price of $3.99 per sandwich, Don's probably not spending much more at McD's each week than he would at the grocery store. At 14 Big Macs per week, that's $55.86. Could he actually be saving money?

But surely, you say, he's tried other fast foods. Once. A friend bet him $5 to eat a Whopper, which he did, and then spent the winnings on Big Macs.


A few fun facts about this week's writers:

Kathryn Zdan, EAKathryn Zdan, EA, meets with an all-female photography group once a month and also spends her free time watching classic and foreign movies. Her dream is to recreate the pie fight scene from The Great Race.

Sandy Weiner, J.D.Sandy Weiner, J.D., as California editor, loves all things California. Whether it's hiking at Big Sur or playing at the beach in San Diego where she lives, Sandy takes full advantage of all that California has to offer as a way to clear her head after trying to comprehend and explain California's Revenue & Taxation Code.

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