Former Miss Russia accused of stealing drugs

NEW YORK Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:32pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A former Miss Russia faced drug charges for a second time on Tuesday, allegedly using stolen prescription pads to obtain painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs from pharmacies in New York.

Anna Malova pleaded not guilty in state Supreme Court in Manhattan to 44 charges of petty larceny, forgery and criminal possession of controlled substances.

The indictment compiled by the city's Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor includes 11 instances in which Malova allegedly forged prescriptions to obtain the painkiller Vicodin and the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam, which is marketed as Klonopin, using pads she stole from two psychiatrists she had been seeing.

The former beauty queen had been arrested in 2010 on similar charges in a case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. That case has been absorbed into the current narcotics case.

The Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor began investigating Malova after one of the psychiatrists reported the theft of her pad.

Malova was crowned Miss Russia in 1998, and was a top-ten finalist in the Miss Universe pageant later that year. She later moved to New York to work as a model, said her attorney, Robert Gottlieb.

She had originally trained as a doctor in Russia but was not licensed to practice in the United States, he said.

The judge agreed on Tuesday to a request by Malova's attorney that she be evaluated for the state's judicial diversion program, in which she could avoid a potential jail sentence and have the charges dismissed, instead getting court-monitored treatment for drug addiction. The prosecution did not object to the evaluation.

"She has already begun very serious rehabilitation long before the indictment today," Gottlieb told Reuters after the hearing. "She has participated in in-patient treatment at a highly reputable treatment centers."

He said he hoped that Malova would be able to enter into the judicial diversion program without having to enter a guilty plea.

"She's not a citizen so in order to avoid her being deported we want to have criminal charges dismissed," Gottlieb said, adding that Malova is living in the United States on a green card that grants permanent residence.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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