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Winona Ryder Accused of Shoplifting in Beverly Hills

December 14, 2001|GINA PICCALO and LOUISE ROUG | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Actress Winona Ryder was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting $4,700 worth of merchandise from a Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store and of possessing pain medication without a prescription, Beverly Hills police said Thursday.

Ryder, 30, was booked Wednesday night on suspicion of felony grand theft and felony possession of pharmaceuticals without a prescription. She was released at 11:40 p.m. on $20,000 bail.

Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney's spokeswoman, said her office had not yet reviewed police reports to decide whether charges would be filed.

Ryder's Los Angeles attorney, Mark Geragos, said Thursday that "when the facts come out, it will be clear that there was no theft involved."

Ryder is scheduled to appear Jan. 11 in Beverly Hills Superior Court.

The actress, known for portraying troubled young women in films such as 1999's "Girl, Interrupted," was allegedly seen by store security personnel and on video monitors grabbing women's clothing and hair accessories, removing anti-theft devices from the items and stuffing them into a large bag, Beverly Hills Police Lt. Gary Gilmond said.

Store security personnel confronted her on the sidewalk outside. When they searched her bag, they told police, they found the merchandise as well as two vials of liquid pain medication and several pain medication tablets, Gilmond said.

Ryder's attorney said she had already purchased several items of clothing, and the arrest was the result of a misunderstanding between two store clerks.

"It was not a situation where she had decided to take anything," Geragos said.

He would not address the allegation that Ryder had removed the anti-theft devices. He added that she has valid prescriptions for the medications police found.

Beverly Hills police said that when they arrived, Ryder was sitting quietly in the store security office. Gilmond described the actress as "very friendly" and "cooperative" and said she did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A Saks Fifth Avenue spokeswoman would not comment on the arrest. Ryder's spokeswoman, Mara Buxbaum, had no comment either.

In August, Ryder unexpectedly withdrew as star of the British independent film "Lily and the Secret Planting," forcing producers to suspend the project and recast the lead role. Ryder worked just two days on the London set before a stomach bug sent her to a hospital for two days. She rested in her hotel room for five days, then flew back to California.

She expressed disappointment at having to withdraw from the picture, but it was not clear what caused her malady.

Ryder has twice been nominated for an Academy Award: for the lead role in 1994's "Little Women" and for best supporting actress in 1993's "The Age of Innocence."

Ryder was raised by hippie parents and moved around a lot as a child, living at times in San Francisco and on a California commune. Her parents were friends of poet Allen Ginsberg, and her godfather was Timothy Leary.

Shortly after moving to Petaluma, Calif., as an adolescent, Ryder said, she was put under citizen's arrest for shoplifting a comic book, according to a 1997 Buzz magazine interview.

"Then the police brought me home and my parents tried to beat them up," Ryder told Buzz writer Hillary Johnson.

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