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Beauty Queen Sued Over Disability

August 26, 2003|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The federal government sued a former beauty queen Monday, claiming she fraudulently collected more than $190,000 in Social Security disability benefits, even while she was competing in pageants.

Denise "Dee" Marie Henderson, 43, was crowned Mrs. Minnesota International in 1999 and competed in the Mrs. U.S. International pageant the same year while receiving the benefits. In both contests she competed in aerobic, evening gown and other events, prosecutors said.

The lawsuit seeks about $600,000.

According to the complaint, Henderson falsely claimed she was disabled by a 1995 auto accident that caused headaches and prevented her from sitting for more than 20 minutes, sleeping, reading her daily mail or lifting more than a few pounds. She received Social Security benefits going back to 1996.

Henderson's attorney, Steven Silton, said she is not guilty, and that she provided "accurate and full information" to Social Security.

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