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'Bling Ring' member enters plea over burglary at Lohan's home

Diana Tamayo, 21, pleads no contest and receives three years' probation plus time served in the county jail and 60 days community service with Caltrans.

October 20, 2012|By Amy Kaufman and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

With a key LAPD investigator under fire for working on a movie about the so-called Bling Ring that targeted celebrity homes, one person pleaded no contest Friday to a single burglary charge for breaking into Lindsay Lohan's home.

Diana Tamayo, 21, received three years' probation plus time served in the county jail and 60 days community service with the California Department of Transportation. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of conspiracy and receiving stolen property. Tamayo must also pay restitution.

Tamayo, who is not a U.S citizen, shed tears as a statement was read in court, noting the potential for deportation because of the conviction.

"We're really satisfied with the deal. The case against her was pretty strong. She was initially charged with two years of state prison, so we're happy with this," said her attorney, Ben Gharagozli.

He called the LAPD's lead investigator an "entirely uncredible witness" because of his work on an upcoming Bling Ring movie and other issues.

The movie, Gharagozli said, "was the big elephant in the room."

In a July hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court 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.

"You should all write a thank-you letter to Goodkin, because his judgment is as poor as it gets," Fidler said, addressing the attorneys. "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."

Two other alleged members of the ring, Courtney Ames and Roy Lopez Jr., did not plead out Friday as they tried to resolve restitution issues in the case.

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 to learn the location of stars' homes and their travel schedules.

Coppola's film stars "Harry Potter" actress Emma Watson as Bling Ring figure Alexis Neiers, who in May 2010 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. Goodkin's attorney Ira Salzman has said that his client's work on the movie is ethical and that he offered advice on police procedures.

The LAPD began an investigation into Goodkin after a Times report revealed he was being paid to consult on the film while the cases against the burglary suspects were still ongoing.

A member of Coppola's production team sat in court Friday taking notes to help write the final scenes of the movie.

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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