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N.Y. Cops: This Maid Cleaned Up

Actor Robert De Niro arrives at a picnic Tuesday, June 14, 2005 in New York. Published reports said De Niro and his wife, Grace Hightower, were among the victims of a housekeeper who has worked for Manhattan's rich and famous, who was arraigned Tuesday June 21, 2005, on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, forgery and coercion after allegedly stealing diamond earrings and expensive clothing from her clients and making purchases on at least one of their credit cards.
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A housekeeper who worked for Manhattan's rich and famous has been charged with swiping pricey property from her clients, including Candice Bergen and Robert De Niro's wife, authorities said Wednesday.

Prosecutor Anne Schwartz said Turyk-Wawrynowicz, 35, stole from at least three people in the past four years. She was arraigned Tuesday on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, forgery and coercion.

Prosecutors and police officials refused to identify the alleged victims. But law enforcement sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a search of the defendant's Queens home on Monday night turned up property belonging to DeNiro's wife, Grace Hightower.

Turyk-Wawrynowicz allegedly ripped off several items belonging to Hightower from a Central Park West address, including diamond earrings with a purchase price of $95,000 and shoes valued at $1,000, the sources said.

The sources also said Bergen had property stolen in 2002, but gave no further details.

In one case, dating from March 2001, Turyk-Wawrynowicz used the victim's credit card 16 separate times to make purchases at Barney's, a high-end clothing store, said Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

"I did not think you would notice," Turyk-Wawrynowicz allegedly told the client when confronted.

A year later, she allegedly stole a brown suede jacket — also recovered at her home — valued at $1,000. When the client confronted her, Turyk-Wawrynowicz threatened to tell the media she had been sexually harassed by the client's husband, prosecutors said.

Schwartz said a fourth victim came forward Tuesday night, but details on that case were not immediately available.

The housekeeper's lawyer, Jeffrey Berman, said Turyk-Wawrynowicz had come to the United States from Poland several years ago and had worked variously as a nanny, cook and housekeeper for several "high-profile celebrity individuals."

He said she had impeccable references, was on good terms with many of former employers and had no criminal history. He said she was living in the country legally.