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Sirens & Gavels

Fri., Nov. 5, 2010, 6 a.m.

Pancake giveaway earns early release

CINCINNATI (AP) — A judge has granted early release to an inmate who was fired from a jail's kitchen for handing out too many pancakes — earning himself the nickname Mr. Pancake.


Heriberto Rodriquez was fired while serving a 180-day term for stealing money from a concession stand at the Cincinnati Reds' ballpark. The kitchen job allowed Rodriquez, 44, to get three days credit for each day in jail, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Authorities said Rodriquez was supposed to give inmates two pancakes each but sometimes gave them four, an act the newspaper said helped the judge decide to take pity on him and grant the early release.

"Mr. Rodriquez, you're just one generous soul, aren't you?" Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh said in court Wednesday before granting his request to be released after 73 days.

The judge had sentenced Rodriquez after he pleaded guilty to theft Aug. 24. Rodriquez, of Cincinnati, stole a money bag containing $3,000 from a concession stand at the Great American Ball Park after a Reds game and was caught on his way out.

With a grin, the judge told Rodriquez on Wednesday that he could go home.

"Get your big box of Aunt Jemima and eat all you want, Mr. Pancake," she said.

Each pancake served at the jail costs 6 cents, sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett said, meaning Rodriquez cost taxpayers 12 cents each time he gave an inmate four pancakes instead of two.

"He just didn't do what he was supposed to do," Barnett said.

Rodriquez, who was fired from the kitchen job Sept. 23, told the judge Wednesday that his shift started at 10 p.m. to help get the food ready for breakfast the next morning. He said when he was doubling up on pancake servings he didn't think he would be "jeopardizing my job."

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