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Winona Ryder Gets Three Years’ Probation

December 6, 2002

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Actress Winona Ryder was sentenced to probation and community service Friday for shoplifting from Saks Fifth Avenue by a judge who warned her, ``If you steal again, you will go to jail.″

In imposing three years’ probation, Superior Court Judge Elden Fox also ordered her to pay $10,000 in fines and restitution and perform 480 hours of community service.

Ryder, who was convicted of taking more than $5,500 worth of merchandise, made no statement other than to acknowledge the judge’s warning. She also was ordered to participate in a court-approved drug and psychological counseling program.

The 31-year-old actress had faced up to three years in prison, but prosecutors did not recommend any time behind bars because she had no prior convictions.

``It is not my intention to make an example of you,″ Fox told Ryder. But he said she had disappointed many people and she would have to ``confront certain issues″ that led to her behavior.

``You have refused to accept personal responsibility,″ he told the actress.

``If you steal again, you will go to jail. Understand that?″ he told her.

``Yes, Your Honor, I do,″ she replied.

The judge ordered Ryder to serve her community service by April 7, saying she would have to spend 240 hours at City of Hope, 120 hours at the Foundation for the Junior Blind, and 120 hours at the Caring for Babies With Aids foundation.

She received a technical term of one day in jail but was given credit for the day she was booked.

The two-time Academy Award nominee, who was convicted last month of felony grand theft and vandalism for the theft a year ago at the Beverly Hills store.

She was sentenced after defense attorney Mark Geragos charged that prosecutors did not treat her like any other defendant, and got a felony conviction ``after they have done everything possible to try to destroy this woman.″

He reminded the judge that Ryder had, among other good deeds, posted a reward to find the murderer of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, who was kidnapped from her Petaluma home in 1993.

Geragos acknowledged some ``aberrant behavior″ by Ryder but called her classy.

In a victim’s statement, Saks Fifth Avenue general counsel Kenneth Metzner told the judge that Ryder made TV appearances after her arrest that made light of the crime.

He said shoplifting is serious, costing Saks more than $7 million last year. That money could have gone to employee benefits and other purposes but ``instead it went to criminals,″ he said. Ryder appeared to smile at that moment.

Ryder’s infamous shopping trip on Dec. 12, 2001, garnered international headlines and became the buzz of late-night talk shows. During her trial, jurors were shown videotapes of Ryder wandering through the store’s designer boutiques and taking a large number of items into dressing rooms.

The tapes did not show Ryder cutting off sensor tags with scissors, but a security guard testified she looked through door slats and witnessed the vandalism.

Security staff testified that after Ryder was caught, she claimed a director had told her to shoplift to prepare for a movie role.

The defense said that after Ryder’s first purchase, the actress believed the store would keep her account ``open″ and charge her later. But there was no evidence of an account.

Earlier this week, prosecutors revealed that Ryder had prescribed narcotics in her possession when she was arrested.

Transcripts made public after the trial disclosed that Ryder was suspected of shoplifting from two other high-end department stores in the past, but no charges were filed. Prosecutors were not allowed to present those allegations during the trial.

Ryder, who began her film career as a teenager in 1986, earned Academy Award nominations for ``Little Women″ and ``The Age of Innocence.″ She also starred in the movie ``Girl, Interrupted.″

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