Scientist gets jail term

Posted 12/16/13 by Malcolm Hiort and filed under:


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METRO NEWS BRIEFS: NEW YORK; Scientist Gets Jail Term For Planting Rat Tail
Published: April 20, 1998

A scientist has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for planting a fried rat’s tail in a Happy Meal at a McDonald’s on Long Island.

Prosecutors said that the scientist, Michael Zanakis, 44, of Harding, N.J., had hoped to extort $5 million from the fast-food chain. He was sentenced in Federal District Court on Thursday for a December conviction for mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.

Mr. Zanakis took a rat’s tail from the medical research laboratory where he worked, had it fried and then placed it in a package of french fries he bought for his son at a McDonald’s in Port Jefferson Station on Long Island on Jan. 15, 1996, prosecutors charged.

”The next day he was on the phone with McDonald’s,” said an assistant United States attorney, Leonard Lato. ”We had him on tape demanding money.”

A lawyer for Mr. Zanakis, Jeh Johnson, said Mr. Zanakis was disappointed by the sentence and planned to appeal.