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Provo police didn't do any investigation on their own before they arrested three people for allegedly stealing surplus products from Nu Skin Enterprises, though the transaction in question was actually set up by the company itself, according to a new filing in a lawsuit.
Former Miss Utah Elizabeth Craig is suing Provo police for what her federal court lawsuit says were violations of her rights when she and two others were charged with stealing surplus products from Nu Skin, the giant marketer of skin care, anti-aging and nutritional supplement products.
Craig and two others who were receiving what Nu Skin called "dump products" on behalf of a charity were arrested in 2010, but the charges against her and a business partner were later dismissed by a judge, and prosecutors have agreed to drop those against the third person.
In fact, according to the amended version of the lawsuit filed last week, Nu Skin employees set up the "theft" with a phone call, saying products were ready for pick up, then loading Craig's truck when she arrived.
After a Nu Skin surveillance camera placed in a storage facility showed the truck being unloaded, employees contacted Provo police and told them the products had been stolen, according to the lawsuit, which is still in its early phases.
"It's so ridiculous that they called up and said 'Come and get all of this stuff,' then told police, 'You need to go arrest these people, all this stuff is stolen,' " Mark Stubbs, Craig's attorney, said Monday. "We think it was a pure sting."
Nu Skin pointed out that the amended lawsuit comes after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby had dismissed the original complaint.
"We believe the complaint had no basis and support the recent dismissal of the claims," a spokesperson said in an email.
Shelby's ruling said the lawsuit could be refiled against the city but could not name an officer involved in the case.
Provo Assistant City Attorney Gary Millward said as in three previous lawsuits, "it is the city's view that this complaint is without merit and the city will ultimately prevail. As to the specific allegation that no investigation occurred, that allegation is not true."
Nu Skin took an interest in the sales by Craig and business partner Brady Harper on eBay apparently because of their high volume.
Former Nu Skin employee Scott Lazerson had been receiving products for redistribution by his charity, the Interface Foundation, with the permission of Nu Skin workers in the employee store, according to court documents.
He had arranged with Craig and Harper and their company, Nu Lite Sales, to take high-end products of little use to the charity and sell them on eBay with some of the proceeds going back to Interface.
All three were arrested in February of 2010 on felony theft and money laundering charges. But a 4th District judge later dismissed the counts against Craig and Harper, citing a lack of evidence. In August, Utah County prosecutors agreed to drop charges against Lazerson if he did not violate state or federal laws for a year.
The lawsuit claims Craig and Nu Lite suffered $1 million in damages as a result of the police's actions and that she suffered stress and emotional distress after her reputation was ruined as a result the arrests.