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Judge acquits tourist in Macy’s shoplifting case linked to racial profiling claims

Posted Apr 1, 2014 12:25 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A New York City judge has acquitted a Venezuelan tourist who had been accused of shoplifting from Macy's, in a case that has been linked by her lawyer to claims of racial profiling by a number of major Big Apple retailers.

Maria Paez said she had simply put items in a Macy's bag to carry them more easily as she shopped at the store in September, the Associated Press reports. Her family owns real estate and a pet-food company in her home country.

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Macy's Herald Square in New York City. rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com

Her lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser, contends she was targeted because she spoke Spanish and said what she thought when treated rudely by a fitting-room worker. "She stuck up for herself, and they didn't appreciate that a foreigner was actually going to talk back to them, and they were going to teach her a lesson," the attorney said.

During the six hours that Hochheiser says Paez was held at the store, pressured to sign a confession and agree to pay $500, she was unable to communicate with her 12-year-old son. He was left on his own until employees discovered him in the shoe department at closing time, the AP article recounts.

A spokeswoman for Macy's declined to make any immediate comment when contacted by the news agency. However, the store has said it won't tolerate discrimination.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Another famed NY retailer faces ‘shop and frisk’ allegations in suit by black actor"

ABAJournal.com: "Accused shoplifters are nabbed by the long arm of retailers, not cops"

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