Volume 76, Number 19 | September 27 - October 3, 2006

‘Lucky Bag’ sting charges are dropped against Soho actress

By Daniel Meltzer

Helen Calthorpe, the 51-year old actress and Lower Manhattan resident arrested in June and accused of petit larceny and possession of stolen property for allegedly attempting to steal a “Lucky Bag,” a shopping bag containing merchandise planted by city police on a subway platform in the hope that someone would take it, has been cleared of all charges.

Calthorpe defiantly pled not guilty at a hearing in July. Her trial was scheduled for last week in Criminal Court at 100 Centre St.

But prosecutors requested a postponement, claiming they were unprepared for her continued not-guilty plea. A number of unlucky, unknowing individuals have accepted fines and sentences of community service, rather than risk trial after being caught in what’s been described as a Police Department sting operation, which civil liberties advocates denounce as entrapment. Calthorpe’s attorney cited lack of evidence of any actual theft, along with an existing statute that allows for 10 days to report found property.

Prosecutors notified Calthorpe’s attorney on Monday that they were dropping all charges against her.

“The people could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Jennifer Kushner, a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokesperson.

The Police Department would not divulge the number of “Lucky Bag” arrests it has made so far this year. The department claims the program ensnares would-be criminals.

Calthorpe said she was relieved, but that she doesn’t want “…to just walk away and say that was a close one…. I am sure there are others out there, others whose stories have not been told.”

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