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Man in his underwear jumped on a tanker carrying wine, started guzzling from the truck

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What some people won’t do for food and drink.

A day after being arrested by the California Highway Patrol when caught on video drinking wine from a moving tanker truck on Highway 99, Hayward resident Gabriel Moreno, 39, was released from jail Wednesday on the state’s zero-bail order. He promptly got himself rearrested, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department says, just to get a sandwich.

First, the wine escapade.

Sometime Tuesday afternoon, Moreno was driving north on the highway in the Fulkerth Road area, CHP Officer Thomas Olsen said. He pulled alongside a Cherokee Freight Lines rig hauling a tank of wine and caught the driver’s attention, “like something was wrong with the vehicle,” Olsen said.

The trucker pulled to the side of the freeway, with Moreno stopping in front of him. “The gentleman (Moreno) gets out of his vehicle in his underwear only, and runs to the back of the trailer,” the officer said. “That’s when the driver realized, ‘This isn’t right,’ and re-enters the traffic lane. The gentleman jumps on the trailer, which has a ladder on the back, and gets a ride.”

Moreno manages to unscrew a valve to try to drink wine as it gushes from the tank, Olsen said. The driver can’t see this, but does notice that a dashboard gauge shows his truck is losing weight, so pulls over. He’s gone about a mile, to the Monte Vista Avenue area, Olsen said.

Once the rig has stopped, Moreno “jumped down and placed himself beneath the belly of the truck and was just indulging in the wine,” Olsen said. “He was lying on the ground and doing snow angels, basically, as the wine was pouring down on him.”

Moreno then ran a short distance. The trucker already had called the CHP, Olsen said, but a few other reports came in of a man running in the area, covered in blood, which of course was the wine. According to Cherokee, the tanker lost about 1,000 gallons of it, Olsen said.

When CHP officers caught Moreno, he was cooperative, Olsen said, and was booked for felony vandalism and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license.

“We’ve seen a lot of things, and this is right up there,” the officer said. He realized Moreno would be out of custody quickly, though, noting, “in the current environment we’re in (because of the coronavirus pandemic), a lot of people are being released before the reports are even written.”

Sure enough, Moreno was freed Wednesday and was in trouble again “within moments,” the Sheriff’s Department reported in a Facebook post.

It says a sergeant noticed a large crowd in the parking lot of the Community Services Agency at 251 E. Hackett Road in Modesto. It turned out Ceres police officers were trying to detain Moreno, who’d allegedly just tried to steal a truck belonging to a landscaping company. An employee intervened, prevented Moreno from leaving the area and called 911.

Moreno was distressed by his early release “and was unhappy he didn’t get a sandwich as part of the standard meal at the PSC (Public Safety Center),” the Facebook post says. He tried to steal the truck as “a way of getting a return visit to the jail, where he hoped to finally enjoy his sandwich.”

Seriously, that’s what he admitted, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Luke Schwartz said.

But auto theft, too, is eligible for zero bail, Schwartz said, citing the California Judicial Council’s emergency mandate stemming from the COVID-19 health pandemic, to ease crowding for inmate safety.

As of Thursday morning, Moreno was back out.

(c)2020 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.)

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