Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Suspects Indicted in LA for Celebrity Burglaries

LOS ANGELES — Five people accused of burglarizing celebrities' homes now face conspiracy charges after a grand jury issued an indictment against the group.

The indictment, unsealed Friday, details the research and planning that went into the break-ins at the homes of stars such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox.

In the case of the break-in at Hilton's home, the indictment alleges group members prepared detailed floor plans, including the placement of security cameras and where the heiress stashed a key to the front door.

The group already faced a variety of charges, but prosecutors opted to present their case to grand jurors rather than having a judge evaluate the evidence during a preliminary hearing. Now, the group may go on trial by November.

They are accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of clothing, jewelry and other luxury items. Some of the property, including Hilton's jewelry, have been recovered. But prosecutor Sarika Kim said in court Friday that one of the defendants, Rachel Lee, may still have some of the goods.

An investigator previously told The Associated Press the value of the unrecovered property may be as much as $2 million.

The burglaries targeted young celebrities with homes in the Hollywood Hills between October 2008 and August 2009. Hilton's home was the first one burglarized; the indictment states planning started a month earlier.

The indicted include Nicholas Frank Prugo, who is charged with seven felony burglaries and has been described as a mastermind of the thefts. A 44-item summary of the alleged crimes states that Prugo often developed a "shopping list" of items to steal from the stars.

Also indicted were Lee, Courtney Lee Ames, Roy Lopez Jr. and Diana Tamayo.

The five pleaded not guilty Friday and agreed to return to court Aug. 12.

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