Former Miss Russia fights new drug charges in NYC

AP News
Posted: Apr 12, 2011 6:31 PM
Former Miss Russia fights new drug charges in NYC

A former Miss Russia kept forging prescriptions to try to get herself painkillers even after she was repeatedly arrested on charges of doing the same, prosecutors said Tuesday. Her lawyer said the former beauty queen was taking steps to address her drug problem.

Anna Malova pleaded not guilty to petit larceny, forgery, drug possession and other charges in a new indictment that expands and consolidates the New York criminal cases she's been fighting since last year. She is now accused of filling or trying to fill bogus prescriptions at pharmacies 14 times over the last 18 months.

Malova began a drug-abuse rehabilitation program after her arrests in February 2010 and last May, she and her lawyer said. But she tried to get more pills with phony prescriptions twice last June and again just two months ago, the city Special Narcotics Prosecutor's office said.

Malova, 39, is being considered for a court program designed to channel addicted offenders to treatment instead of jail. Prosecutors have consented to have her evaluated as a candidate, and her lawyer says she's a good one.

"Whatever Ms. Malova has done is all related to a very serious substance-abuse problem," Malova lawyer Robert C. Gottlieb said after her court date Tuesday. He said her drug trouble dated back a number of years but declined to elaborate on its origins.

As for her recovery efforts so far, "rehabilitation is always an up-and-down process, and we're all optimistic that, at the end of the rehabilitation, she will be OK," Gottlieb said. "She's taking this very seriously."

If Malova is approved for what's known as court "diversion" to treatment and succeeds in it, the charges could get dismissed or reduced. For now, the top charge against her carries the possibility of up to seven years in prison. She is free on $3,000 bail.

Malova took prescription pads from the offices of two psychiatrists _ one an addiction specialist _ and wrote herself prescriptions for the painkiller Vicodin and the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin, prosecutors said.

Malova was Miss Russia in 1998 and finished in the Top 10 in the Miss Universe pageant that year. She was a physician in her native county, according to her statements at the 1998 pageant.