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Beauty Queen Resigns; Cheating Alleged

August 20, 1998| Associated Press

HAZLETON, Pa. — The 1998 Mrs. Pennsylvania gave up her crown Wednesday, one day after four pageant organizers were charged with rigging the contest.

In a statement released before pageant officials were expected to vote on whether to dethrone her, Rhonda Lewan said she didn't know about the scheme.

"I was an unwitting pawn in this alleged deception," Lewan said.

Pageant officials will decide today who will replace Lewan.

Four organizers, all from New Jersey, were charged Tuesday with rigging a public contest, theft by deception and criminal conspiracy. If convicted, they could each face up to 19 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

Authorities in Lancaster, where the pageant was held May 9, started an investigation after six of the 21 contestants filed complaints alleging that Lewan was crowned even though the judges didn't rank her as the winner. Two of the four judges later acknowledged that the allegation is true.

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