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1950S MOUSEKETEER'S ACT CALLED THEFT.

Byline: Associated Press

Darlene Gillespie, who stole America's heart in the 1950s as a Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer, was called a professional thief by a judge who sentenced her to probation for stealing a food processor.

Gillespie, 56, of Woodland Hills showed no emotion Tuesday as Superior Court Judge Roland Purnell called both her and her fiance, Jerry Fraschilla, professional thieves and sentenced them on petty-theft convictions.

Earlier this month, jurors convicted the couple of stealing a food processor and clothing from the Macy's department store in Ventura.

``I have no doubt they were going from store to store and returning stolen items for credit,'' Purnell said. ``Testimony about their innocence - the stories they told in court to explain their actions - was preposterous.''

Gillespie and Fraschilla, 59, were placed on three years' probation. The judge also sentenced Fraschilla to 15 days in jail, but stayed the order to allow time for an appeal.

The two were videotaped walking into Macy's empty-handed Jan. 26, then walking out with stolen items, said Deputy District Attorney Tony Aguilar.

Security guards were watching them because three days before the incident Gillespie tried to return a food processor that wasn't in its box.

``The video showed (Fraschilla) coming down an escalator with the Cuisinart and pulling a Macy's bag out of his pocket,'' Aguilar said. ``When he gets to the bottom, the Cuisinart is in the bag.''

The two also walked out with four purloined shirts.

Police arrested them, and they spent three days in jail before they were released pending trial.

During sentencing, Gillespie showed ``no remorse on her behalf because she is truly innocent,'' said defense attorney Victor Furio. ``This is a case where a jury convicted an innocent person.''

It was the first criminal conviction for Gillespie, who has two children and is a nurse. It wasn't her first encounter with the courts, however.

Gillespie, Fraschilla and his brother-in-law Michael Andrews, 35, of Los Angeles were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1994 for a fraudulent stock-buying practice called ``free riding.''

The trio allegedly purchased stock in 1992 and 1993 without the means or intention of paying for it, a violation of federal securities laws. Gillespie had filed for bankruptcy in federal court, the lawsuit said.

Fraschilla was then president of Pacific Southwest Corp., a Northridge real estate and financial services company that was also in bankruptcy liquidation. He and Gillespie co-own a company called Top Gun Ventures, through which Gillespie controls stock brokerage accounts.

Gillespie also made headlines when she filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Productions, claiming Disney took advantage of her age when she signed a contract in 1955 to perform on TV's ``The Mickey Mouse Club.''

Disney promised Gillespie she would become ``a well-known artist,'' the lawsuit said. But her career never blossomed like that of fellow Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, who eventually appeared in several movies.

Disney settled the suit for an undisclosed amount.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 21, 1997
Words:488
Previous Article:NEW YEAR, NEW HOPE, NEW CONFERENCE FOR CSUN; KICKERS' HOPES ARE HIGH FOR THE BIG SKY : TEAM PROFILE.
Next Article:PROSECUTOR CALLS CASE SHIFT PAYBACK BY DA.


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