Miss Tri-Cities will lose her crown after pageant organizers learned Friday that she was caught stealing clothes from a Kennewick department store.
Maeloni R. Ogle, 21, pleaded guilty weeks before the pageant to a misdemeanor theft charge for stealing more than $250 of clothes from Macy’s at Columbia Center mall.
Ogle received a deferred sentence, meaning she could avoid possible jail time if she stays out of trouble.
Dot Stewart, Miss Tri-Cities executive director, told the Herald that Ogle will lose her title, $12,000 in scholarship money and other prizes. First runner-up Stefanie Maier will be the new Miss Tri-Cities because the initial runner-up, Tayler Plunkett, previously stepped down.
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Stewart found out about the shoplifting incident Friday from the Herald and immediately called a meeting with Ogle and her family. Stewart notified the aspiring actress and physical therapist that she could no longer wear the crown.
“She’s definitely in violation of the contract she signed,” Stewart said. “She will be asked to step down.”
The contract has specific language asking if Ogle has ever been charged or convicted of any crimes, including minor offenses, Stewart said. Ogle signed the document, leading pageant organizers to believe she had no criminal history.
The Miss Tri-Cities organization does not perform criminal background checks on contestants prior to the pageant, Stewart said.
Court records show Ogle — a two-time runner-up at the Miss Washington USA pageant — has no other criminal history in the Tri-Cities.
She was chosen over eight other young women in July to become Miss Tri-Cities 2015. She already had begun representing the Tri-Cities at public events and was to compete in the 2016 Miss Washington competition.
A Macy’s loss prevention officer spotted Ogle on April 10 walking around with a Victoria’s Secret bag and large purse, court documents said. Ogle appeared to be watching store employees while picking up clothes from different departments.
She went into a fitting room and exchanged some clothing on a rack. When she came out of the room a second time, she wasn’t carrying any clothes. The officer checked the room and found clothes were missing.
Ogle walked by two counters and made no attempt to pay before leaving the store, according to court documents.
The officer followed her out and brought her back inside the store, court documents said. She asked if she could pay for the clothes or give them back. They included two tops, an athletic jacket, shorts, an athletic bra and a dress valued at $259, court documents said.
“Ogle said she felt really stupid and ashamed, and that she was sorry,” wrote Nancy Shenter, Macy’s asset protection manager, in court documents.
Kennewick police were called. Ogle signed an admission statement and was banned from all Macy’s stores for three years. Along with the suspended sentence of 364 days in jail, Ogle also was ordered to pay more than $600 in fines, court records show.
Ogle could not be reached Friday.
Stewart, who has worked with the Miss Tri-Cities competition for 17 years, said she has never had another winner stripped of her crown.
It’s unfortunate that Ogle made the mistake she did, Stewart said.
“She is a lovely young lady,” Stewart said. “It’s really tragic this has happened to her. She is devastated and so are we.”