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APNewsBreak: Lesser NV Drug Charge In Model's Case

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A Hong Kong fashion model arrested twice during her trip to the Burning Man counterculture festival last summer likely will escape without any jail time after a Nevada prosecutor decided Wednesday to reduce the final charge she faces to simple drug possession.

Rosemary Vandenbroucke, 28, originally was charged in September with furnishing a controlled substance when a sheriff's deputy said he saw her offer ecstasy to someone at the festival in the Black Rock Desert about 100 miles north of Reno.

"I'm going to reduce the charge to just a simple possession because I think it's what justice requires in this case," Pershing County Deputy District Attorney Bryce Shields told The Associated Press.

In a separate but related case, Vandenbroucke agreed on Jan. 31 to plead no contest to careless driving and pay more than $1,400 in fines and damages after she drove a rented motorhome into the edge of Reno's landmark downtown arch on Labor Day.

Vandenbroucke was on her return trip from the festival that attracted more than 50,000 people to the ancient lake bed when she ran into a fire hydrant, which then damaged the arch that proclaims Reno the "Biggest Little City in the World."

The model and singer most popular in Asia and Europe was scheduled to appear on the drug charge at a preliminary hearing in Pershing County Justice Court in Lovelock on Wednesday, but her lawyer Tammy Riggs waived her right to that hearing. Her arraignment has not been set yet in state district court in Pershing Count about 80 miles east of Reno.

Riggs said she was aware the charge would be reduced but emphasized that Vandenbroucke has not agreed to any sort of plea deal and that none was in the works as far as she knew.

"Her only agreement at this time is to waive her preliminary hearing," Riggs said Wednesday.

Shields said preliminary tests showed the illegal substance to be the drug ecstasy but final tests are still pending.

Furnishing a controlled substance is a Class B felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $5,000 fine, he said. He said simple possession of a controlled substance is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years with no fine, but that her clean criminal record likely would bring "mandatory probation."

"It appears she offered it but the person did not accept," Shields told AP in a telephone interview from Lovelock. "Technically, in Nevada, you can charge someone with furnishing if there is an attempt to exchange. It is up to the other person to accept or not. But in this case, I just think the facts warrant a lesser charge."

Shields said he will have 15 days to file a formal criminal complaint in district court. After that, a judge will set a date for the arraignment in the weeks or months ahead.

"If Ms. Vandenbroucke is in Asia or Europe, it will probably be a ways out," he said.