The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Winona vexes judge with steal-and-sell charity cry

Beverly Hills, April 8 (Reuters): Actress Winona Ryder wants to hold a charity auction to sell the $5,500 worth of clothes and accessories that she stole from a posh department store but a judge was reluctant to buy into the plan.

Beverly Hills Superior Court Judge Elden Fox praised the 31-year-old actress for completing the community service part of her three-year-probation ahead of schedule but sparred with her lawyer, Mark Geragos, over whether she could dispose of the merchandise by holding a charity auction.

Ryder, sentenced on December 6, 2002, for shoplifting from Saks Fifth Avenue, had to pay $10,000 in fines and restitution and became owner of the property.

Fox said he was not keen on the idea of a celebrity auction to dispose of the merchandise because as he told Geragos, “Your client should not benefit” from her crime. But he postponed making a final ruling.

Geragos told the judge it was “ironic” that the court would turn down such a money-making opportunity in the face of the county court system’s steep budget problems.

“It seems awful silly to take thousands of dollars of merchandise and burn it in a bonfire,” Geragos said.

Outside of court, the lawyer said he really did not understand why the judge was against the idea other than it was also being opposed by the district attorney.

Geragos said: “I can probably raise $100,000 on that stuff.” He did not identify a charity or give any other details.

Judge Fox praised Ryder, who stood silently beside her attorney during the half-hour hearing, for completing all 480 hours of community service that he ordered — an amount that translated into 60 eight-hour days.

She read to children and helped out in the offices of the children’s ward of City of Hope, a nationally renowned cancer treatment centre in Duarte, California, northeast of Los Angeles.

“She has done more hours than the court ordered,” Geragos said. “She developed a close relationship and really bonded with a couple of kids, one of them undergoing a bone marrow transplant and another with leukemia,” the judge added outside court.

Ryder has not worked in films since her sentencing and instead has concentrated on completing her community service and going to a court-ordered therapist.

Fox told her: “I want you to continue to do what you have been doing. These are positive reports and I expect to continue to see more of the same.”

He also said he had no objection to Ryder travelling out of the state or even out of the country for any movies that would require her to do so.

Geragos said the actress was at first was not free to travel anywhere because she had to fulfil the term of her probation.

A Beverly Hills jury convicted her of felony grand theft and vandalism for taking more than $5,500 worth of merchandise a year earlier from Saks.

Police had found eight prescription drugs in Ryder’s possession when she was detained at Saks.

Court papers said the actress had used a half-dozen different names to get the drugs, which included Valium and Diazepam.

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