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'Bling Ring' pay records contradict LAPD officer advising on film

An officer who cracked the burglary case is already under investigation for consulting on the movie. Now payroll records suggest he was paid more than he said.

June 26, 2012|By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times

Payroll records appear to contradict how much money a Los Angeles police officer who brought down the so-called "bling ring" said he was paid to work as technical advisor on a movie about the case.

Officer Brett Goodkin, who is currently under investigation by the LAPD for consulting on Sofia Coppola's docu-drama while assigned to the case, was paid between $5,000 and $6,000, authorities said. But payroll records turned over to defendants in the burglary case show he was paid $12,500 by the filmmaker and her production company.

In addition to his consulting work on the movie about the San Fernando Valley youths who burglarized the mansions of Hollywood celebrities, Goodkin also appears in a cameo as an arresting officer. The payroll records do not specify what Goodkin received payments for.

Information from the records also raises questions about whether Goodkin properly informed police supervisors about his movie job. He told the district attorney's office that he made his captain aware of his involvement with the film in January, authorities said. But the documents indicate Goodkin had been receiving money from the production since 2011.

According to the records, Goodkin received $1,000 from Coppola's production company American Zoetrope in August 2011 and another $6,000 in November. In January, Coppola herself wrote him a check for $1,500, and he received a $4,000 payment from  Bling Ring LLC in March.

"The little credibility Goodkin once had is completely gone now," said David Diamond, the attorney for defendant Roy Lopez Jr., one of three suspects awaiting trial for their alleged involvement in the "bling ring."

Goodkin is now on desk duty. The LAPD's inquiry began in April after a Times report revealed he was being paid to consult on the film while the cases against the burglary suspects were still ongoing.

Ira Salzman, Goodkin's lawyer, said he was unaware of the discrepancy between the payroll records and what Goodkin told prosecutors.

"If there is discrepancy, I'll look into it," he said, adding that his client's work on the case was ethical. He said Goodkin's written agreement with the filmmakers "makes it very clear that my client did not and will not comment on the case. He specifically advised on police procedures, and none of my client's involvement compromised the prosecution."

The lawyers for the three defendants will ask a judge next month to dismiss the case for what Diamond in court documents called "outrageous police conduct."

Coppola's film, which does not yet have a release date, 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.

Lopez, 29, Courtney Ames, 21, and Diana Tamayo, 21, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

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