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Archive for Saturday, November 2, 2002

Disgruntled ex-Saks worker testifies in Ryder trial

November 2, 2002

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— A disgruntled former employee of Saks Fifth Avenue testified Friday in Winona Ryder's defense, accusing the security chief of Saks' Beverly Hills store of saying he would invent evidence to prove the actress shoplifted.

Michael Shoar was one of four witnesses called by attorney Mark Geragos, who indicated Ryder was unlikely to testify before the defense rests on Monday.

"I don't think so, I feel pretty good where we're at right now," Geragos said after putting Shoar, two police officers and a district attorney's spokeswoman on the stand.

Ryder, 31, is accused of stealing more than $5,500 worth of goods from the Beverly Hills Saks on Dec. 12. The jury is expected to get the case on Monday.

Shoar, who worked in Saks' Costa Mesa store, said he spoke by phone with the Beverly Hills Saks' asset protection manager, Ken Evans, shortly after Ryder's arrest. Evans was a key prosecution witness who narrated videotapes of her shopping trip.

"I asked him how he was doing?" Shoar said. "He said he had a very important case now and basically he would nail that rich Beverly Hills bitch on shoplifting charges."

Shoar said he later had lunch with Evans and "he was very anxious, nervous and he said he would bring her down one way or another. ... He would make enough evidence so it would show the shoplifting charge was true."

Evans testified earlier that he did not make such comments.

On cross-examination, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Rundle asked Shoar if he no longer was allowed to come onto Saks Fifth Avenue property. Shoar said yes.

"Isn't it true that you have an ax to grind with Saks Fifth Avenue?" she asked.

"Yes, I do," Shoar said.

She then elicited from Shoar parts of a story in which he and his wife threatened to sue Saks over an alleged affair the wife had with someone at a Saks store.

"Isn't it true," said Rundle, "you are very angry with Saks Fifth Avenue?"

"No, I'm not," said the witness as courtroom spectators and some jurors laughed.

Questioned again by Geragos, Shoar said he received a letter of recommendation from Saks after leaving the company, that he had no ax to grind and did not come to the trial to commit perjury to get even with Saks.

Geragos also called two Beverly Hills police officials.

Detective George Elwell said sensor tags which Ryder allegedly cut off merchandise were kept locked in his desk drawer until they were needed at the preliminary hearing and they weren't booked into evidence until then.

Police Lt. Gary Gilmond, acknowledged that at a news conference after Ryder's arrest he said she was videotaped cutting off the tags. He later learned there were no such tapes.

Security videotapes played in court only show Ryder moving through the store's boutiques, not inside dressing rooms where the tags allegedly were removed.

District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons acknowledged issuing a press release using Gilmond's erroneous account.

"It was not inaccurate that the Beverly Hills police said this at a news conference," Gibbons said. "I hadn't seen the videotape and I still haven't seen the videotape."

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