Let the record show that when Laura Montanari was sued for civil theft, fraud, vandalism and breach of contract, she made no comment on the charges, but her silence shouldn't be taken as a tacit admission of guilt. The Miami, Fla. resident is only 8 months old, and her vocabulary is limited to gurgles and goos.

The brown-eyed baby already had enough difficulties—she was colicky and cutting two teeth—when a Key Biscayne restaurant accused her of pocketing revenues from its cigarette machines. Laura's folks, Gary, 37, and Moira, 30, never doubted her innocence. "I watch her at night," says Gary, a Miami News photographer, "and I know she doesn't slip out and rip off cigarette machines."

The Montanaris' faith in Laura was well founded. The restaurant was actually trying to sue Lauramount Inc., a vending company. Through a mistake they filed suit against Lauramont Inc.—a trust fund set up by Laura's grandfather, Adelio Montanari, for her college education.

Fortunately Laura is still in her playpen, not the state pen. The suit has been dismissed, the lawyers have apologized, and Gary has learned a lesson in fatherhood. "I know girls are supposed to be a problem," he says, "but I thought it happened when they were teenagers."