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Former Utah beauty queen sues Provo over theft case

Published June 17, 2012 12:25 am

Court • Lawsuit claims police unlawfully arrested former Miss Utah, business partner.
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A former Miss Utah has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Provo, claiming the city's police department maliciously prosecuted her and her business partner while investigating a theft in 2010.

Elizabeth Craig, 41, and her business partner, Brady Harper, 42, were listed as plaintiffs in documents filed in 4th District Court last Friday.

Craig and Harper, along with Scott Lazerson, 41, were arrested in February 2010 after police investigated the claim that they stole more than $1 million in products from Nu Skin and were reselling the items on the Internet.

Harper's and Craig's cases were dismissed in late 2010.

But Lazerson, a former Nu Skin employee, is scheduled for trial in August. He has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of theft by deception, theft by receiving stolen property and money laundering, and one misdemeanor count of sales/deals with articles bearing trademark violations.

Harper and Craig — who was Miss Utah in 1991-92 and who participated in the Miss America pageant — claim in their lawsuit the Provo Police Department had no probable cause to arrest them for theft. They claim that the product they had was donated by Nu Skin to Lazerson's nonprofit venture Interface Foundation. The donated product was considered "dump product," the lawsuit states, and was given to Lazerson's charity because it was expired, overstock or damaged goods. Interface then distributed the goods to people in impoverished locations.

Some of the products, such as facials, exfoliating scrub and high-end cosmetic products, were deemed "entirely inappropriate to deliver to those in extreme poverty," according to the lawsuit, so Lazerson gave the product to Craig and Harper's company, Nu Lite, which sold the items over the Internet.

Once the Nu Skin product was sold, the court documents state, the money would be used by Interface for charitable purposes, "including paying the administrative and operating expenses of Interface."

Craig and Harper are each seeking at least $5 million from the city for wrongful prosecution, along with an additional $1.5 million because the company's products were never returned after the investigation. They are also seeking at least $5 million from Nu Skin for "tortious interference" with prospective business relations. The lawsuit claims the police department gave the questionable product to Nu Skin, which never returned the product, affecting affected Nu Lite's existing and potential sales.

Provo officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller






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