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Texas jail guard guilty of serving up hacksaw blade

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - In old movies, the inmate usually got a hacksaw blade secreted into his cell baked in a cake.

But in Texas, it came in a soft taco.

Jail guard Alfred Casas, 31, was convicted on Tuesday of smuggling a saw blade to a double murder suspect in the Bexar County Jail by hiding it in a folded soft taco shell.

Casas admitted to sneaking a taco into the jail in December 2009, but denied that a hacksaw blade was inside its shell.

Assistant Bexar County District Attorney James Ishimoto said a jury convicted Casas of bribery and providing an inmate with escape elements after 10 hours of deliberation,

Ishimoto said Casas, who had been a jail guard for three years, brought two tacos into the jail for an inmate, who later pleaded guilty to murder, in exchange for two bottles of Xanax provided by the girlfriend of the inmate, Jacob Keller.

The hacksaw blade, along with a length of rope and an inmate jumpsuit dyed to resemble street clothes, was found in the inmate's cell during a surprise inspection.

Ishimoto said Casas was convicted of two felony counts of bribery, each punishable by two to 20 years in prison. The third count was for providing an inmate with "escape implements," punishable by two to 10 years.

Merely smuggling a taco into the jail could have been classed as a felony, Ishimoto added. The jury will begin hearing arguments on Casas' sentencing on Wednesday morning.

(Reporting by Jim Forsyth; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)