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One Atlanta ‘Barbie Bandit’ withdraws plea

ATLANTA (AP) — One of the two young women who gained national notoriety as one of the “Barbie Bandits” withdrew her plea Friday after declining to call a co-defendant a drug dealer.

Ashley Nicole Miller, 19, was expected to testify that Michael Darrell Chastang “had sold drugs on prior occasions,” said Bonnie Derrer, an assistant district attorney.

Doing so and admitting to bank theft would have meant that prosecutors would drop a drug trafficking charge against Miller that has a minimum sentence of three years in prison.

Police found 110 Ecstasy pills when Chastang, Miller and Heather Johnston — the other of the so-called “Barbie Bandits” — were arrested during a traffic stop just two days after the two women were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing as they appeared to steal nearly $11,000 from a Bank of America on Feb. 17 in Acworth, Ga.

Instead of labeling Chastang a drug dealer, Miller said in court that she lied to police about who owned the drugs to protect Chastang, who she said she had been romantically involved with when they were arrested. Her arrest warrant says she initially told police she was a drug dealer, claiming that the pills were hers and that Chastang was holding them for her.

Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley admonished the teenager.

“Miss Miller needs to be truthful. You are under oath,” she said. “I don’t care who is hurt or helped by the truth. The truth stays independent of hurt or help. The truth exists on its own.”

Miller’s attorney, Timothy Williams, later asked that Miller’s plea be withdrawn and she left the courthouse with her father.

The case, which at first looked like a bank robbery, turned out to be a theft involving a complicit teller, authorities said. Bank teller Benny Herman Allen III, who police allege handed the girls $10,966 in cash and was in on the job, also was arrested.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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