World Cup champion reports trophy missing from hotel room
While many are wondering if the World Cup freestyle circuit will return next year to South Shore, U.S. moguls champion Alex Wilson wonders if his prestigious trophy will ever leave.
Wilson, who won the World Cup moguls competition Jan. 23 at Heavenly Ski Resort, says his first place trophy was stolen Jan. 25 from his hotel room.
Latoya Sheree Lewis was charged Sunday for grand larceny, resisting arrest and battery of an officer. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department alleges that the trophy was taken by Lewis during her shift as a housekeeper at the Horizon Casino in Stateline.
Lewis, 23, of South Lake Tahoe, was released Monday on her own recognizance. She will be arraigned on the three charges today at the Tahoe Township Justice Court at 9 a.m. Lewis declined to comment when contacted at her South Shore residence.
Horizon corporate director of marketing Charles Fowler declined to comment and would not reveal Lewis’ status as an employee at the casino.
The trophy has not been recovered.
“I was pretty shocked about the whole thing,” Wilson said Tuesday from Ithaca, N.Y. “I mean, the best symbol of a win is the trophy, and it’s gone now. I’m not going to let this stain the whole experience I had. Nobody can take away from what I did out there. It’s kind of a letdown but it doesn’t change my opinion of the whole experience.”
The win marked Wilson’s first podium appearance in just his second full season on the World Cup circuit. Wilson was 10th in moguls at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.
Wilson, a 24-year-old Buffalo, N.Y. native, reported the missing trophy to Horizon Casino security while packing his belongings just after midnight on Jan. 25. According to the police report, Wilson said he left the crystal on a vanity shelf earlier in the day. Wilson said he had planned to “protect” the trophy in his ski bag. While packing, Wilson could not find the crystal and later checked with teammates and coaches about its whereabouts. Unable to retrieve the crystal, Wilson said he contacted Horizon security because he felt it was stolen.
Horizon security chief Glenn Koehler helped authorities narrow down housekeepers who were working at the time of theft and suspected Lewis, who had cleaned Wilson’s room on the day of the incident.
“Everyone was just kind of surprised about it,” Wilson said. “I thought in the back of my head that I might have just done something stupid with it. In a way, I was kind of relieved to know that it had been stolen.”
Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy John Milby then interviewed hotel inspector Kymm Gardner, who had advised Horizon security officials that she had seen the trophy on Lewis’ cleaning cart. While in Lewis’ presence, Gardner then proceeded to examine the cleaning cart where she found the trophy in a Horizon laundry bag that had been placed under a similar bag in Lewis’ cart.
Gardner did not confront Lewis at the time because she believed Lewis might be returning the keepsake to the lost and found department, the police report reads.
Milby questioned Lewis and advised her that returning the missing item would help her avoid prosecution. Milby claimed that Lewis was “very argumentative” and vociferously denied having the trophy. Further questioning prompted Lewis to admit that she did in fact take the trophy, though she thought it was a vase because it contained ‘dead’ flowers, Milby reported. Lewis then claimed that she frequently disposes of wilted flowers and removes the vase from a room she is cleaning, the report continued.
“I could see how she could have mistaken it for a vase, but she shouldn’t have taken it,” Wilson said.
According to the police report, Lewis noticed the “First place” marking on the trophy, but did not think anything of it. Lewis added that she did not return the trophy or take it to lost and found because her shift was over and she planned to go home. Further questioning indicated that Lewis had last seen the trophy on the cart and denied placing the crystal in a laundry bag.
It was reported that Lewis refused to stand up and put her hands behind her back when she was being arrested. Lewis continued to resist and struck Milby in the face before officers were able to force her to the ground and place handcuffs on her. Once handcuffed, Lewis verbally assaulted Kilby and repeatedly kicked him in the leg before being transported and booked at a Stateline jail, it was reported. The incident was taped by a casino surveillance camera.
Grand larceny is a Class C felony in California and, if convicted, Lewis will face between one to five years in prison and a potential $10,000 fine. Resisting a police officer is a misdemeanor and carries up to six months in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. Battery on an officer is a Class B felony offense and carries a minimum two-year sentence and/or a $10,000 fine.
Wilson has not yet decided whether he will continue to press charges if the trophy is returned to its proper owner. He estimated the trophy to be worth between $500 to $900.
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