Every once in a while, actress Sharon Stone would ask her housekeeper, Coco, where a pair of J.P. Tod shoes, a Luis Vuitton handbag or a Vera Wang evening gown might be.
"The housekeeper would say, 'You gave that to your sister,' or, 'Oh, that's at the cleaners,' " said Deputy Dist. Atty. Wendy E. Segall.
In fact, the missing items--dozens of designer evening gowns, 43 pairs of shoes, and Bulgari baubles worth thousands of dollars--were stashed away in eight garbage bags at the housekeeper's Los Angeles home.
On Tuesday, Coco, whose real name is Socorro del Carmen Membrano, pleaded no contest to a single count of receiving stolen property and was sentenced to 16 months in state prison. She was also ordered to pay $50,000 restitution.
Stone was not in court, but earlier she told a probation officer: "The whole incident is very sad. Coco treated me as if I were her daughter, and when she would see me, she would hug me--walk over and say, 'You're my daughter.' "
The housekeeper entered her plea before Judge Victoria Chavez, as her trial was to begin at the Superior Court's Airport Branch Courthouse. Stone was on call to testify, Segall said.
"She loved her housekeeper. There was a big disappointment, a sense of betrayal," the prosecutor said.
Membrano, 48, was arrested Feb. 29. The LAPD evidence log in the case reads like an inventory at Barney's:
A Valentino evening gown worth $20,000; another worth $15,000; a Bulgari necklace worth $9,500; and a Cartier watch worth $7,500. Also taken were the blond wigs Stone wore in the film "Gloria."
The shoe collection alone rivaled Imelda Marcos'--dozens of pairs by J.P. Tod, Dolce & Gabbano, Manolo Blahnik and Hermes. Coco's secret stash, worth more than $300,000, was pilfered over six years, Segall said.
Stone, who hired Membrano in October 1994, reported her clothes, shoes and jewels missing after other staffers told her they had discovered them at Membrano's home. The staffers had gone there to give Membrano her final paycheck after the housekeeper was fired for unrelated reasons.
"They asked her if she had any of Sharon's things," Segall said. "She gave them some of the jewelry. Then she said, 'Don't you want the rest?' There were eight garbage bags full of things."