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Bess Myerson Pleads Guilty To Shoplifting

July 16, 1988 GMT

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Seven weeks after her arrest, former Miss America Bess Myerson changed her plea to guilty to charges that she shoplifted jewelry, cosmetics and other items from a South Williamsport discount store.

Miss Myerson, 64, was arrested by South Williamsport Police Chief Charles Smith after leaving the Hills Department Store on May 27 with $44 in merchandise. She said at at the time, and reiterated in a statement handed to reporters Friday, that she was only ″leaving the store to lock (her) car″ and planned to return and ″pay for the merchandise.″

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Her attorney delivered the signed guilty plea to the retail theft charge Friday morning to the office of District Justice John M. McDermott.

″I represent that I make this plea knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently. I plead guilty,″ the form signed by Miss Myerson said.

McDermott fined Myerson $100, plus $48.50 court costs.

″That’s the normal fine and costs for a first offense,″ he said. ″It’s over with.″

According to published reports, Miss Myerson was arrested for shoplifting in London in the early 1970s.

However, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Osokow said that based on the state crimes code, the London offense cannot be considered a prior retail theft arrest here because it occurred before to the adoption of a new state shoplifting law.

The fine was paid by Miss Myerson’s attorney when he delivered the guilty plea. The $150 bail she posted at the time of her arrest is being returned to the New York City resident, who faces federal charges for allegedly trying to influence the judge handling the divorce of her reputed lover, Carl A. Capasso.

Capasso is serving a sentence at nearby Allenwood Federal Prison Camp for tax evasion.

Myerson reigned as Miss America in 1945 and most recently served as New York City’s cultural affairs commissioner. She reportedly is worth $16 million.