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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A veteran Broward County prosecutor and a respected author on the prevention of child sex abuse is no longer facing a misdemeanor petit theft charge over accusations that she stole $42 worth of makeup from an Aventura Publix store in August, according to a closeout memo provided Monday to CBS 4 News by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Stacey Honowitz, the supervisor of the Sexual Battery Unit at the Broward State Attorney’s Office, returned to her job earlier this month, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said.
According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office memo, Honowitz was shopping with her daughter when she put 3 beauty items into her purse. The action was captured on the store’s surveillance cameras.
Honowitz paid for more than $124 worth of groceries, purchased Lotto tickets, had a conversation with a woman and left the store. Store employees stopped her outside the store and questioned her about the items.
The memo says she “apologized for forgetting to pay for the items and offered to pay at that time.” However, prosecutors say, Publix store policy mandates that if the total amount of the stolen items exceeds $25, they prosecute.
Honowitz was given a notice to appear in court on the petit theft charge and allowed to leave.
Form the outset, Honowitz’s attorney, Jayne Weintraub, maintained that Horowitz did not intentionally steal the makeup and simply forgot to pay for it.
“I want to reiterate this was a terrible mistake, not a crime,” Weintraub told CBS 4 News on Monday.
Miami-Dade prosecutors said they reviewed the surveillance video, police reports and witness statements and decided to pursue a charge of misdemeanor petit theft.
However, due to Honowitz’s clean record, they offered her pre-trial diversion. She was ordered to complete a “theft” course and then the charges were dropped.
Weintraub said Honowitz did not do pre-trial diversion. Instead, she completed a 4-hour online course.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office told CBS 4 News on Monday that Honowitz completed the course a couple of weeks ago and resumed her job, after being suspended from the office.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office said Honowitz lost 20 days of pay for time she missed at work after she used her existing vacation time to cover her absence.
The accusations against Honowitz came as a shock to the legal community in Broward County. Numerous veteran prosecutors and defense attorneys expressed disbelief o CBS 4 News that Honowitz would be involved in any type of criminal activity.
Weintraub, Honowitz’s lawyer, said her client is hoping to put all of this behind her.
“Stacey is appreciative of all the people who have sent and shared their own stories of walking out of a store and forgetting to pay. She never intentionally would steal anything,” Weintraub said. “She regrets all of the time and effort spent on this investigation.”