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Was Miss El Paso shoplifting?
That's what employees at a Dillard's department store located at Sunland Park Mall in El Paso, Texas believe, accusing 2008 winner Lorena Tavera of shoving a $69 shirt into a plastic shopping bag before trying to leave the premises without paying.
Out on bond, she is now facing charges of Class B misdemeanor theft.
And has to deal with the two outstanding municipal court traffic warrants issued for her arrest.
Directing media to her attorney, Lorena Tavera disputes these allegations, telling KTSM-TV that the situation has "been misconstrued and it's twisted."
After all, as a student at the University of Texas at El Paso and an instructor at a local modeling agency, the former beauty queen should be able to afford a $69 shirt.
Likely facing steep fines and a few days in jail as a result of the already existing traffic court warrants, Tavera is also facing up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail if convicted on charges of shoplifting.
Additionally, the former Miss El Paso may have to contend with the Texas Theft Liability Act, which is a civil statute that allows victims of theft to sue for actual losses, up to $1,000 in additional damages, as well as court costs and attorney's fees.
Such high penalties go to show that, if the allegations against Lorena Tavera are true, for the former Miss El Paso, shoplifting was the wrong choice. Sixty-nine dollars is significantly cheaper than a potential $3,069.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.