More celebrities targeted by alleged ‘bling ring’
The roster of young celebrities allegedly victimized by the so-called bling ring expanded Wednesday as Los Angeles police detectives said the group targeted Brian Austin Green, Ashley Tisdale and Megan Fox as part of a string of at least 10 burglaries in the Hollywood Hills.
So far, at least eight celebrities -- including Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson and Orlando Bloom -- have allegedly had property stolen by the gang that police said was made up primarily of teenage girls, most of whom attended the same continuation school in Agoura Hills.
“The celebrities had a few things in common -- that they were celebrities, it was easy to find out where they live via the Internet, and that none of the celebrities knew any of the suspects in this crime,” said Officer Brett Goodkin of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed charges Wednesday against four suspects: Diana Tamayo, 19, Courtney Ames, 18, Alexis Neiers, 18, and Roy Lopez, a 27-year-old bartender.
Neiers was arrested last week as her family filmed a reality show pilot for E! channel. Her father is a Hollywood cinematographer and one of her sisters a Playboy starlet. Through her attorney, she has denied any wrongdoing.
The other three suspects were also arrested last week, and all are out on bail. In addition, Rachel Lee, 19, who has not been charged in the case, was arrested in Las Vegas last week and the investigation into her role is ongoing, prosecutors said.
Nicholas Frank Prugo, 18, has been arrested and charged in connection with burglaries at the homes of Lohan and Patridge. An attorney for Prugo said he played a limited role in the crimes. According to prosecutors, the ring’s downfall was when Prugo’s face was captured on a security surveillance camera at Lohan’s home.
Goodkin said Wednesday that investigators had issued an arrest warrant for a seventh suspect, Jonathan Ajar, a 27-year-old ex-con and drug trafficker known as “Johny Dangerous.” A club promoter, Agar was the crew’s tie to the criminal underworld, police said.
Agar, who was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in 2002, is believed to have sold off some of the stolen merchandise, police said.
A raid on his apartment last week recovered a stack of firearms, piles of narcotics and body armor. “This is a very dangerous fugitive wanted for possession of firearms and narcotics who has served federal prison time,” Goodkin said.
Police allege the crew took jewelry, designer clothes and accessories. Later they wore some of the pilfered couture, including Fox’s T-shirts and Hilton’s shoes, police said.
At least $2 million in merchandise has been recovered by police, who said they did not believe they had recovered the majority of stolen items and that the estimated value of the thefts could escalate.