Cops bust pageant winner's bash

February 25, 2009 11:56:58 AM PST
The reigning Miss Connecticut Outstanding Teen held a party that mushroomed out of control and resulted in two dozen people being charged with underage drinking, police said Wednesday. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Rachael Ramonas, 17, lists among her accomplishments a benefit she organized for families of victims of a fatal car crash in which the teen behind the wheel had a history of drunken driving.

It's not clear whether Ramonas, who competed in the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant in August in Florida, was among those charged. Police are not releasing the teens' names because they are juveniles.

Officers responding to an anonymous call about underage drinking Saturday night found beer and rum. They also found items commonly used for the drinking game called beer pong, which involves tossing a ping pong ball into cups of beer.

Ramonas' parents were out of the state when police arrived, said Wolcott police Capt. Domenic Angiolillo. They returned the next day, he said.

No one answered the phone at the Ramonas home Wednesday in Wolcott, about 30 miles southwest of Hartford. Several students at Wolcott High School, where Ramonas is a senior, declined to speak to a reporter Wednesday afternoon, and the principal declined to comment.

The teen pageant is affiliated with the national Miss America pageant and scholarship competition. The Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program administers both the Miss Connecticut and Miss Connecticut Outstanding Teen contests as preliminaries to the national competitions.

The Miss Outstanding Teen contest promotes scholastic achievement, creative accomplishments, healthy living and community involvement. Ramonas received a $2,000 scholarship for winning the state title.

Pageant officials on the state and national levels are deciding whether to take action. Ramonas' term ends in June.

"This is a very sad day for us today," said Gail McCool, spokeswoman for the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program.

According to the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Web site, Ramonas is an honor student who wants to become a dentist. Her platform is to promote awareness of eating disorders.

The Web site also says she organized a fundraiser for the families of three friends killed in a car accident in 2007. The driver of that crash, 17-year-old Anthony Apruzzese of Wolcott, had his license suspended earlier that year from a crash in which he was charged with driving while intoxicated. Apruzzese was among those killed.

Ramonas had apparently planned a low-key gathering, Angiolillo said.

"She invited some friends, and those friends invited some friends and those friends invited some friends, and it got out of hand from what we hear," Angiolillo said.

Police issued 24 tickets for possession of alcohol by a minor. The infraction carries a $136 fine and, under a new state law, an automatic driver's license suspension of at least 30 days.

Another dozen teens ran away without being caught, police said. It appears most of the teens who were cited intend to plead not guilty and take their cases to Waterbury Superior Court, Angiolillo said.

"It's not the end of the world. It's not the crime of the century," Angiolillo said. "It was kids being kids. She made a bad judgment call. It's just a shame, that's all. You have to take responsibility for your actions."

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