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Venezuelan Beauty Queen Accused

January 23, 1998

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ The Venezuelan beauty queen who made headlines two years ago for putting on weight after being crowned Miss Universe is back in the news.

A lawyer for a man who was shot outside a church in November said Friday that Alicia Machado, 21, was seen driving the car in which her boyfriend sped away from the scene of the shooting.

Francisco Sbert Mousko suffered brain damage when two bullets punctured his skull outside a church where his dead wife was being eulogized.

Sbert’s family said the alleged gunman, Sbert’s brother-in-law Juan Rodriguez Reggeti, had accused Sbert of driving his sister to commit suicide.

``Our accusations against Alicia Machado are based on coinciding testimony from witnesses, who place her in the vehicle in which Juan Rodriguez fled the scene,″ said Omar Arenas Candelo, one of three attorneys who presented the allegations to a criminal court late Thursday.

He spoke to The Associated Press on Friday.

The El Nacional newspaper reported that Machado, who completed her reign in May 1997 and is preparing for her debut as an actress, has been subpoenaed to appear in court Monday. Efforts to reach her by telephone Friday were unsuccessful.

Machado created a stir when she reportedly gained more than 35 pounds after her 1996 crowning in Las Vegas. She was quoted as saying she had gone on a severe diet to win the title.

Her efforts to drop weight turned into a public spectacle when businessman Donald Trump called in reporters to watch her work out in an exclusive Manhattan gym.