A 222-mile trip from Houston to Corpus Christi to deliver 1,512 cases of beer began innocently enough.
The problem, Harris County prosecutors said, is that the beer never got to its destination, and now the 52-year-old truck driver is facing a felony theft charge.
Sundiata Bilal Simba, a driver at Nuks Trucking in Houston, left Sept. 21 in an orange Freightliner to deliver the beer for Anheuser-Busch, but the folks in Corpus Christi told Nuks officials that the shipment never arrived, according to an arrest warrant filed in the case.
Reached by telephone, Simba told his boss, Robert Riles, that the Freightliner broke down in Mathis, "and that it was going to cost $2,000 to tow the Freightliner and he didn't have that kind of money," the arrest warrant states.
Riles told Simba that he was on the way to Mathis to help him, but when he arrived there the driver, the truck and the load of beer were nowhere to be found. So Riles headed back toward Houston.
When he reached Victoria, Riles flagged down a Department of Public Safety trooper and asked if he knew of a stalled Freightliner on the freeway in or near Mathis. The trooper replied that he had heard of no such reports, the arrest warrant states.
As Riles continued on the trek back to Houston, his phone rang. It was Simba. Riles asked about the beer.
"Simba told him that he sold the load because he needed the money," according to the arrest warrant. Simba had worked at the company for about a month, Riles said.
Four days later, on Sept. 25, Houston police received a tip that beer was being sold from rental trailers in the front yard of a residence in northeast Houston.
A witness told police that he had purchased beer the day before from a man on Parker Road near a place called Bruno's Horse Arena, and they unloaded the beer from an orange Freightliner onto the rental trailers.
On Oct. 2, Houston police went to the 8000 block of Parker Road near the horse arena and found numerous wooden pallets marked "AB," along with plastic wrappings marked with bar codes and several damaged Budweiser cardboard boxes.
One of the bar codes matched the order picked up by Simba, investigators said.
Story by firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com\bobby_stanton with the Houston Chronicle.