PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Rhode Island's entry in last year's Miss America pageant may be stripped of her crown because of her arrest on cocaine and liquor charges, the state pageant's president said Thursday.
Pageant President Joseph Trillo said he will call an emergency meeting of pageant officials to deal with the matter.
'We try to maintain a good image and it's important not to have something like this hurt the image of the Miss America Pageant,' Trillo said, adding it was the first time in the 20 years he's been associated with the Rhode Island pageant that a winner's title has been jeopardized.
The state's reigning Miss Rhode Island, Toni Langello, 20, was charged with one felony count of possession of cocaine Wednesday after lab tests found traces of the drug inside a mirrored compact in her purse.
Langello, her boyfriend, John D'Antonio, 21, and a third person, JamesBerker, 21, all of Warwick, were arrested Dec. 16, when police stopped their car and confiscated two small bags of cocaine allegedly belonging to D'Antonio.
Langello also was fined $100 in District Court Wednesday after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor liquor charges for drinking beer in the car. Another hearing is scheduled for Jan. 26.
Langello, whose reign ends in June, failed to reach the semifinals of the Miss America contest last September in Atlantic City, N.J.
'I'm very disappointed,' Trillo said following a telephone conversation with Langello. 'This is not the kind of publicity the Miss America Pageant needs.'
Trillo said Langello insists she's innocent and will be cleared of the charges, but the 31-member Miss America pageant committee in Rhode Island will not wait for her trial before making a decision.
'We're not going to wait around,' said Trillo, who also planned to consult with organizers of the national Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. 'I'll be calling an emergency meeting next week to decide what we will do.'
Trillo said Langello will continue her responsibilities and appearances until the board decides her fate.
'It's premature to say what will be done,' he said. 'If we take her title it may not be a case where it would go to the first runnerup because there is very little time left' in her reign.