ANDOVER, Mass. (AP) – A former New Hampshire elementary school principal who made national headlines because of her heroin addiction has been charged with shoplifting from a gift shop.

Margaret Loder Healey, 51, of Merrimac, was arrested Thursday and charged with stealing $66 worth of merchandise from the Andover Gift Shop.

A store worker saw her allegedly cutting price tags off merchandise and slipping items into her bag. When approached by Andover Officer Edward J. Guy III, she told him she had put them in her bag to pay for them, according to police.

Among the items found in her bag were $16 necklaces, sterling silver accessories worth $26, a “suncatcher” valued at $14, and a journal valued at $10, The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover reported.

A man who answered the door at her home said she would have no comment.

Her court-appointed lawyer did not return a call from the newspaper seeking comment.

Loder Healey had been an award-winning principal at Memorial Elementary School in Newton, N.H., until the School Committee learned in late 1999 that she had been addicted to heroin and faced federal charges. She subsequently resigned.

She received three years probation on a federal heroin possession charge in October 1999. Several other people were also charged in what federal authorities described as a major Merrimack Valley drug ring.

In February 2000, she was arrested for violating her probation for passing a false prescription. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of shoplifting and passing a false prescription, and received a 90-day suspended jail sentence and 18 months of probation.

Her story as a both an educator and a drug addict appeared in newspaper national-wide. In an appearance on as ABC’s “20/20,” she described how kept her secret of nearly three decades of drug abuse and shoplifting.

She was released on minimal bail for Thursday’s charges. She was ordered to return to court on May 16 for a pretrial hearing.


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