PROVO — Three people accused in the alleged theft of more than $1 million in Nu Skin products have all proven to be ambitious in previous ventures, including national beauty pageants, international philanthropy and an attempt to buy Bridal Veil Falls.
Elizabeth Craig, 39, of Orem, was crowned Miss Utah 1991 and went on to win the swimsuit competition the following year at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
Craig, Scott Lazerson, 39, of Orem, and Brady Harper, 40, of Taylorsville, were each charged Thursday with three first-degree felonies — pattern of unlawful activity, theft by receiving stolen property and money laundering — and felony trademark infringement.
All three are free on bail and scheduled to appear Friday in 4th District Court.
Police say Lazerson, who worked briefly for Nu Skin in 1994 and 1995, convinced two company employees that he was authorized to repeatedly take hundreds of boxes of products from a Provo warehouse as donations to his charity.
He stored the products in a storage unit in Orem and then worked with Craig and Harper to sell them online through their company, Nu Lite Sales, at a profit of $20,000 to $30,000 a month, police say.
Craig, now a motivational speaker, has taught LDS seminary classes and served as a session director for Especially for Youth.
Craig was scheduled to speak at an EFY conference at BYU-Idaho next month, but school officials canceled her appearance after her arrest, said school spokesman Andy Cargal.
Lazerson, who styles himself an entrepreneur and philanthropist, dropped out of BYU in the mid-90s to start a successful children's clothing line with his wife. More recently, he has worked with celebrities — most notably, Paris Hilton — to promote various charitable causes.
In 2007, Lazerson had plans to visit schools and health clinics in Rwanda with Hilton and to film the trip to pitch a reality TV show on celebrity philanthropists. The plans fell through, but Lazerson went on to create the Interface Charitable Foundation for similar ventures.
Utah Valley magazine named him the "most philanthropic person in Utah Valley" last year. On his blog, Lazerson calls himself "fearless and unrestrained by convention" and "a modern day crusader."
He told the Deseret News Thursday he is "completely innocent."
"I can't allow this to be a hiccup in my work," Lazerson said. "My work is way too important."
"Elizabeth is innocent and the truth will come out and support her innocence," said Craig's attorney, Patricia Parkinson Glenn.
Harper did not return a phone call.
Harper had plans to buy the land around Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon in 2008. He approached the family who owned the site and proposed creating "pocket parcels," akin to shares of the falls, to finance the purchase. Harper planned to rebuild the tram that was destroyed in an avalanche in 1996 and to create other amenities at the site.
The deal never materialized, according to Alex Grow, whose father and uncle bought the property in 1971, even though Harper posted on Facebook in November 2008 that he had "just acquired Bridal Veil Falls."
In an unrelated matter, Harper entered a plea in abeyance in 3rd District Court last September to misdemeanor attempted securities fraud in connection with an investment he solicited in a smoothie drinks venture.
A hearing on a possible violation of his plea agreement is set for Monday.