Famous Jewel Thief Doris Payne, 85, Says She'll Fight Shoplifting Rap

Tracy Connor
This Sept. 23, 2005 file photo shows Doris Payne, an international jewel thief, posing in her cell at Clark County jail in Las Vegas.
Jae C. Hong | AP

Golden-aged jewel thief Doris Payne, who has racked up dozens of arrests in a headline-grabbing career, had a gem of an answer when she was asked about her latest run-in with the law.

"I look forward to my day in court," she told NBC News on Wednesday.

Payne, 85, relayed the comment to her attorney, who was standing next to her but would not allow her to get on the phone with a reporter.

More from NBC News:
FCC slashes costs of prison phone calls
Doomed cargo ship needed work on boilers
Questions raised over thrift shop's charitable deeds

The lawyer, Scott McCullers, said his bling-loving client plans to plead not guilty to charges that she swiped a $690 pair of Christian Dior earrings from a Saks Fifth Avenue in an Atlanta mall on Friday.

And he suggested that she is being persecuted because of her reputation, cemented in the 2013 documentary "The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne."

"This issue may simply be someone seeking to enhance their name because of the recent recognition she received," McCullers said.

Bernard L. Madoff leaves U.S. Federal Court on Jan. 14, 2009, after a hearing regarding his bail in New York.
Madoff victims could get more money back
Sir James Dyson, holding robot vacuum cleaner, Dyson 360 Eye.
Next ‘VW scandal’? Dyson accuses German vacuums of test cheating
12 tons of drugs seized in tunnel along US-Mexico border

"They were initially interested in charging her with trespassing," he added. "Once it was known who she was, it was turned into something else."

Atlanta Police spokesman Sgt. Warren Pickard declined to respond to the lawyer's claim that the charge was pumped up, but said the arresting officers didn't even know who Payne was until they found out she had an outstanding warrant for theft in North Carolina.

Payne, who served two years in prison for a 2011 California theft, was charged with shoplifting for the Saks incident, booked at the Fulton County Jail and later released on $2,500 bond.

McCullers said she was just visiting Atlanta.

"She's traveling, taking in some sights and enjoying her senior years," he said, adding that she had some undisclosed "health issues."

Although McCullers would not let Payne give an interview, she has spoken openly in the past about her exploits, which spanned two continents and six decades.

"I've had regrets, and I've had a good time," she told the Associated Press in 2005.