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Judge calls cop's work on 'Bling Ring' film 'stupid'

L.A. County Judge Larry Fidler says LAPD Officer Brett Goodkin's work on a film about a group of teens who allegedly robbed celebrities has harmed the prosecution's case.

July 21, 2012|By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
  • LAPD Officer Brett Goodkin, who led the probe into the so-called "bling ring," earned $12,000 from director Sofia Coppola and the production company working on a docudrama about the case.
LAPD Officer Brett Goodkin, who led the probe into the so-called "bling… (Reed Saxon, Associated…)

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Friday called a police officer's decision to work on a movie about the so-called bling ring "stupid," but refused to dismiss charges against one of three defendants in the case.

Judge Larry P. Fidler said LAPD Officer Brett Goodkin's decision to serve as a technical advisor on Sofia Coppola's docudrama "The Bling Ring" while still assigned to the case had harmed the prosecution of the defendants charged with burglarizing the homes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

"You should all write a thank you letter to Goodkin, because his judgment is as poor as it gets," Fidler said, addressing the attorneys for Roy Lopez Jr., Courtney Ames and Diana Tamayo. "You can have a field day with his credibility during trial.... It's a shame what he did. It's harmful to the people's case."

Lopez's attorney had filed a motion for charges to be dismissed, citing "outrageous police conduct." Lopez, 29; Ames, 21; and Tamayo, 21, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

According to authorities, members of the "bling ring" broke into several stars' Hollywood Hills homes and made off with more than $3 million in art, cash, clothes and jewelry.

The ring was largely composed of young women who attended a continuation high school in Agoura Hills and had a taste for the luxury goods and accessories worn by young celebrities. The group initially targeted wealthy homeowners in communities in western Los Angeles County, investigators said, and then turned their attention to big names, using websites such as Twitter and celebrityaddress-aerial.com to learn the location of stars' homes and their travel schedules.

Coppola's film stars "Harry Potter" actress Emma Watson as bling ring culprit Alexis Neiers, who pleaded no contest to second-degree residential burglary. Neiers was also on Coppola's payroll and is now on probation after serving 30 days of a 180-day sentence.

Other members of the crime ring include Nicholas Prugo, who pleaded no contest to two counts of first-degree residential burglary, and Rachel Lee, who pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree residential burglary.

According to payroll records, Goodkin received $12,500 from Coppola and her production company. The officer, who led the investigation into the burglary ring, is on desk duty as the LAPD investigates his work on the film.

Initially, Goodkin told the district attorney's office that he received no more than $6,000 for serving as a consultant. But payroll records obtained in June revealed that Goodkin had been receiving money from the filmmakers and the production company since 2011.

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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