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Ex-Beauty Queen Nabbed in $190K Fraud Case

August 9, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A former beauty queen who collected more than $190,000 in Social Security benefits by claiming she was disabled was convicted Monday of fraud.

A federal jury found Denise Henderson, 44, guilty of wire fraud and of making false statements and concealing information from the Social Security Administration.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for between 2 1/4 years and 2 3/4 years in prison, prosecutors said. No sentencing date was set.

Henderson did not comment, but her lawyer in a related civil case said she plans to appeal.

``At this point she’s numb and she’s shocked,″ attorney Steven Silton said.

Henderson _ Mrs. Minnesota International in 1999 and Mrs. Iowa International in 2001 _ has claimed she suffers debilitating chronic pain from a 1995 car accident.

Federal prosecutors noted during the trial that Henderson collected benefits while making over 200 appearances as Mrs. Minnesota International in a year. Henderson, of Woodbury, currently serves as a director for several pageants.

According to a report she filed in 1997, Henderson said she had continuous back and neck pain and could not move or straighten up, had migraines four or five times a week that lasted most of a day and could not drive more than 20 minutes at a time.

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