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Woman swaps rings, police say

Three months ago, Odalys Wingate was arrested on theft charges when she was accused of swallowing an $11,000 diamond ring at Montgomery Ward. Monday night, she was arrested again.

Publicity surrounding the first arrest prompted officials from another department store to step forward.

Service Merchandise officials claim Wingate stole a diamond ring from their store three weeks before the Montgomery Ward theft.

In that March 1 incident, salesclerk Maria Gatta-Korson said she thought she was about to make a big sale.

"My manager said, "Oh, Maria, that lady's been over there a long time, why don't you go over there and wait on her? She might want to buy a big diamond,' " Gatta-Korson said Tuesday.

Instead of making a big purchase, Tampa police said, Wingate, 28, replaced a $2,890 diamond ring with a $30 cubic zirconia.

Gatta-Korson said she immediately discovered the switch because the three-quarter-carat diamond ring was two sizes too big for Wingate, but Wingate barely slid the one-carat cubic zirconia off her finger.

When Gatta-Korson summoned her manager, Wingate left the store at 4340 W Hillsborough Ave.

Monday night, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies arrested Wingate in the Service Merchandise theft. She was released on $2,500 bond, according to jail reports.

Three months ago, Wingate of 6221 N Manhattan Ave. was arrested in the Montgomery Ward theft at Tampa Bay Mall. In that case, security cameras recorded Wingate putting an $11,580 ring in her mouth, police said.

Police officials said she swallowed the ring. Wingate, who used the alias of childhood friend Nancy Ruz during the first arrest, was held without bail untilauthorities recovered the ring in a bed pan, the police report said.

Service Merchandise officials identified Wingate after the March 24 swallowing incident made news, said John McInnis, the store's manager.

Wingate refused to comment.

Her father, Orlando Torres, said his daughter's legal woes have taken a toll on her. In recent months, Wingate has been arrested twice on prostitution charges. "She feels bad," Torres said. "She's in bed. She feels terrible."