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Charges Dumped in Socialite-Dog Case

July 9, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a socialite who argued with an American Airlines crew over where to stow her dog and ended up being tied to her seat with the animal’s leash.

Marcelle Becker was charged with assaulting and interfering with a flight crew in the 1995 incident. She could have faced 20 years in prison, but prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying it was unlikely Mrs. Becker would repeat her behavior.

The widow of an insurance magnate was flying first-class from New York to Los Angeles with her 8-pound Maltese dog, Dom Perignon.

Mrs. Becker claimed that a flight attendant shoved and kicked the dog’s Louis Vuitton carrier under the seat before takeoff, even though she had bought a ticket for it.

During the flight, the dog got loose. An argument broke out, and the crew said Mrs. Becker became so hostile that they had to tie her to her seat.

She sued the airline for unspecified damages, alleging assault, battery, violation of civil rights and cruelty to animals. A jury rejected her claims in March.

The dog died in 1996.