AVENTURA (CBSMiami) — For the first time we are seeing images on surveillance tape of a veteran Broward prosecutor who has been charged with shoplifting beauty products at a Publix supermarket.
Aventura Police detectives released the tape late Tuesday afternoon.
They say it shows 56-year-old Stacey Honowitz in the cosmetics aisle Saturday afternoon at the Publix store at 189th St. and Biscayne Boulevard putting nearly $43 worth of beauty products in to her purse while purchasing $124 worth of groceries.
A police report had said she concealed the items in her purse.
The face of a child who is with her is blurred to protect that youngster’s identity.
The tape shows Honowitz spending several minutes in the aisle.
Her attorney Jayne Weintraub had said that Honowitz inadvertently put the items in her purse and did not intent to commit a crime.
The surveillance tape also shows Honowitz at the check-out counter paying for items.
Aventura Police are not commenting about the new surveillance tape.
Honowitz is charged with a misdemeanor and has been suspended while there is an administrative review at the Broward State Attorney’s office. She is using vacation time during the investigation.
Other prosecutors will handle her cases during the review.
On Tuesday night, Weintraub told CBS4’s Carey Codd, “Stacey does not deny putting the cosmetics in her bag. If she had put it in her cart, they would have fallen through. She had every intention of paying at the cashier and simply forgot. It’s being blown out of proportion.”
Honowitz is charged with petit retail theft, which is a misdemeanor. She was released on a promise to appear in court.
On Monday, Broward attorneys who know Honowitz told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they were stunned by the allegations.
Defense attorney Glenn Roderman, a former prosecutor, said, “This is so out of character for her 30 years. She is a nationally known expert on sex crimes as they relate to children. She has been on several national shows throughout the U.S. and has always been a guest speaker about the topic which has become so prevalent and relevant. I am totally shocked.”
Defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich said, “I would be very surprised if the allegations were true. A lot of the time innocent people get arrested because there is a mistake. I have known Stacey Honowitz for over 20 years and have tried cases with her. She is beyond reproach. This is all a surprise to me and I would be shocked if this would be proven to be true and I believe she will be proven innocent.”
Attorney Andrew Coffey, a former Assistant Public Defender, said “I was surprised. I always had a great deal of respect for Stacey. She was always very fair and reasonable. There were never any major issues and I was shocked by this.”
CBS4 News showed the video to South Florida criminal defense attorney Kevin McGill. He is not connected to the case.
McGill said what you don’t see is Honowitz attempting to be surreptitious or shifty in the store.
“There’s no erratic or sneaky behavior that appears to be out of the ordinary,” McGill said. “I don’t think it stands out as an obvious theft case at all.”
In the police report, Aventura Police wrote that “Ms. Honowitz selected three beauty products valued at $42.93 and concealed them in her purse.”
McGill said it’s tough to see on the video but said the word “concealed” seems like a stretch.
“I don’t think that she pushes them down into the bag in an attempt to conceal them,” he said.
McGill did say the one thing that seems unusual on the video is that Honowitz went into her purse at the checkout and didn’t suddenly remember the makeup items.
“You see her at the register pull a wallet or some type of clutch out of the bag,” McGill said. “If the items were not buried in there, presumably she should see those items at the top of the purse when she went to pull the wallet out.”
We also asked criminal defense attorney and former Broward State Attorney Sasha Shulman to look at the video.
In a text message she said, in her view, the video is “extremely weak evidence.”
“There are no blatant attempts to conceal any items,” Shulman said. “Other customers are walking by during what is claimed to be a theft. There is nothing covert about her actions. I don’t see any convincing evidence that the State Attorney’s Office would be compelled to prosecute the case.”