Bexar DA tosses out San Antonio theft charge against telenovela actress
The drama a Mexican telenovela actress faced at an upscale designer store in San Antonio is over.
Prosecutors have dismissed a misdemeanor theft charge against Daniela Castro, saying there was no probable cause for her arrest on Sept. 28, when a loss prevention officer at Saks OFF 5th at the Rim shopping center accused her of taking clothing items worth up to $700 without paying for them.
Castro, whose real name is Danielle Stefani Arellano, is one of Mexico’s most well-known telenovela actresses and is married to a grandson of a former Mexican president, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. She has starred in novelas that include “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo” (What Life Stole from Me), “Me Declaro Culpable” (I Plead Guilty), and “Mujer, Casos de la Vida Real” (Woman, Real Life Cases).
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Castro, 52, was arrested outside the store and paid $815 bail to be released, but denied the charges and maintained it was a misunderstanding. Bexar County prosecutors filed a motion dismissing the case in County Court-at-law 14 on Thursday, some two weeks before her initial Dec. 14 court date.
Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said he wanted to make clear that Castro was not given any preferential treatment, adding that he had no idea who she was.
He said the dismissal was based on a thorough review of the case, and his office found insufficient evidence and a lack of intent.
“We looked at everything,” LaHood said. “We have evidence she spends a good amount of money at this store. She was at the register about 10 minutes, paying. It does not appear she had any intent to steal this stuff.”
Her lead lawyer, Michael Gross, said that in his 31 years of practicing law, he’d never seen a case where a client paid thousands of dollars for items, yet got arrested, even after being rung up by not one, but two clerks.
Gross said details of the case — widely reported by the international media shortly after Castro’s arrest — were wrong to begin with. The loss prevention officer reported to authorities that Castro had put clothing items in her purse. She did not have a purse, but a fanny pack, Gross clarified, citing surveillance video he fought with Saks to obtain through a subpoena.
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What transpired, according to Gross, was that Castro was making a return trip to the store with bags of clothes or accessories she planned to return or exchange and as she entered the store, she draped clothes she planned to buy over one of the bags, hangers and all, and put some inside the bag closest to her. She then proceeded to a cash register.
Gross said the video shows Castro spent 10 minutes at the register as two clerks processed the returns or exchanges and rang up the rest of her purchases.
“She’s spending thousands of dollars,” Gross said. “After 10 minutes, now she has three bags, and the alarm never goes off when she leaves the store. Outside, a loss prevention officer told her she never paid for (some) items and she’s arrested.
“I think it’s a shame some news agencies reported she was stuffing items into her purse,” Gross said. “I’m shocked and disappointed.”
He commended the DA’s office for quickly dismissing the case. He said he did not know if Castro will continue shopping at Saks OFF 5th, given what happened to her.
A manager at Saks OFF 5th declined comment Monday.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @gmaninfedland