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Ex-Ms. Universe Accused of Threat

February 5, 1998

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ A Venezuela judge said Thursday a former Miss Universe threatened to kill him after he indicted her boyfriend for attempted murder.

Venezuelan beauty queen Alicia Machado threatened ``to ruin my career as a judge and ... kill me,″ Judge Maximiliano Fuenmayor said on national television.

The 21-year-old Machado, who created an international stir in 1996 when she gained 35 pounds after being crowned Miss Universe, allegedly called the judge after he issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Juan Rafael Rodriguez Regetti.

Rodriguez, 26, is accused of shooting and wounding his brother-in-law, Francisco Antonio Sbert Mousko, outside a church in Caracas last November where Sbert’s wife _ Rodriguez’s sister _ was being eulogizing.

Rodriguez apparently blamed Sbert for driving her to commit suicide.

The victim’s family accused Machado of driving the getaway car, but Fuenmayor has not indicted her, citing insufficient evidence. The judge said there were no witnesses to place Machado at the scene _ or to back up her claim she was home sick at the time.

Machado could not be reached for comment Thursday. She was in the city of Maracay filming a soap opera Thursday, according to Mariela Castro of Venevision TV network. Machado’s lawyer was also unavailable for comment.

Fuenmayor said he planned to open a new case against Machado for Wednesday’s threatening phone call.

In the past two decades, Venezuela has had four Miss Universes, four Miss Worlds and two Miss Internationals _ the world’s top beauty title record.

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