New Jersey mom pleads not guilty to taking 5-year-old daughter into tanning booth

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A New Jersey mother pleaded not guilty to charges of child endangerment over accusations she let her 5-year-old daughter use a stand-up tanning booth.

Patricia Krentcil faces a second-degree child endangerment charge. Through her attorney, she pleaded not guilty in Newark Municipal Court on Wednesday morning. Krentcil is free on $2,500 cash bond.

Before Wednesday's court hearing, Krentcil, whose skin is deeply bronze-colored from regular visits to the tanning salon, called the accusation a lie.

"It's all made up," she said.

Police arrested Patricia Krentcil, 44, of Nutley, N.J., after they were called to her daughter's elementary school on April 24.

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The girl, named Anna, reportedly told the school nurse she was in pain from burns she suffered while "tanning with mommy."

Krentcil had told various TV stations her daughter was in the room at the salon but not in the stand-up tanning booth.

The owner of City Tropics Salon in Nutley, who only identified himself as Anthony, said employees who were there on the day in question told him the girl remained outside with her father and brother and didn't go into the tanning booth while Krentcil was inside.

He said a sign is posted in the salon that refers to New Jersey state law barring anyone under 14 from using a tanning salon.

"I would never harm a child," he said. "I have seven kids of my own. It's just ridiculous."

Krentcil's attorney, John Caruso, said outside court that she will be exonerated, because the evidence will show the child never entered the booth.

"Forget about the presumption of innocence; my client is 150 percent innocent," Caruso said. "She loves that child more than her whole life. She would never, ever allow her child to go inside a tanning bed."

Krentcil said the child's sunburn was a result of playing outside on a sunny day.

According to court records, Krentcil was found guilty of theft by deception in Camden County in 2000 and ordered to pay more than $4,000 in restitution. She also has had more than a dozen civil judgments and liens filed against her in New Jersey and Illinois, where she lived in the 1990s.

Krentcil remained free on a $2,500 cash bond. She is scheduled to make her next court appearance June 4.

Newscore and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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