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3 arrested in use of stolen Grammy IDs

Four of nine missing all-access passes are recovered during an investigation at Staples Center award show.

February 12, 2008|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Three people were arrested at the Grammy Awards after they tried to breach security at the star-studded event using stolen passes that gave them access to all areas, authorities said Monday.

The theft of nine coveted identification passes was discovered when one of the alleged thieves tried to enter Staples Center shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday using a pass reserved for a female guest, Los Angeles police said. One of the stolen passes belonged to a security guard.

In questioning suspect Sebastian Bonner, 20, of Murrieta, police and FBI agents learned that nine credentials had gone missing the day before the awards ceremony, police said.

Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the motive for the theft apparently was a desire to rub elbows with celebrities.

"This wasn't something more serious than some people who wanted to see the Grammys who are star-struck," Smith said. "We immediately notified all the police, private security and security checkers to be on the alert for people with the particular stolen credentials."

Smith said the Grammys, like most major events since the 2001 terrorist attacks, goes to great lengths to control entry and uses photo IDs. Gate-crashers at such events were once common. But today, security is tight and breaches are considered criminal, Smith said.

Along with Bonner, Courtney Mitchell, 30, and Pamela Clay, 44, both of Los Angeles were arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen property after being found with someone else's event ID card.

"Basically here we had one individual who sold a bunch of IDs to his friends and acquaintances," Smith said.

Bonner, police said, was seen in an office where the credentials were held before the ceremony.

Authorities recovered four of the credentials. Another was found near Bonner as he was being interviewed by the FBI.

A 10th credential was stolen before the event during an unrelated street robbery, police said.

"You can face serious criminal penalties for passing stolen credentials or manufacturing or falsifying them for these events," LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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