‘Bling Ring’ cop’s job at risk when LAPD panel considers his case
An L.A. police officer could lose his job after a disciplinary panel rules on his role in the making of “The Bling Ring” movie about youths who burgled the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
An internal investigation was launched into Officer Brett Goodkin’s simultaneous involvement in the real-life case and the film.
Goodkin, 40, served as a technical advisor on “The Bling Ring,” consulting last spring with filmmaker Sofia Coppola about police procedures and performing a brief speaking part as an officer who arrests a suspect played by Emma Watson.
In exchange for his work on the film, which will hit theaters in the U.S. in June, he received $12,500.
But Goodkin has been accused of not properly informing the LAPD or the L.A. County district attorney of his Hollywood turn — major oversights, considering the prosecution of three of the Bling Ring defendants was still ongoing when he worked on the picture.
LAPD officials launched an internal affairs probe into Goodkin’s conduct in April 2012. Now, an LAPD source with direct knowledge of the investigation said police officials want to see the 10-year veteran fired and have ordered him to go before a disciplinary panel that will decide his fate.
The source, who requested anonymity because police discipline matters are confidential, said the so-called Board of Rights hearing is not expected to take place for several months.
The source also said that the LAPD has opened a second investigation into Goodkin, this one looking into allegations that he sent unsolicited and sexually suggestive messages to a woman who was a potential witness in the Bling Ring case.
“I’m not going to have any comment,” Goodkin said when reached by telephone Monday. His lawyer, Jodi Gonda, did not respond to multiple inquiries from The Times.
When first contacted by The Times about “The Bling Ring” film a year ago, Goodkin said he participated in the film because he considered it to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at inner workings. He downplayed his role in the film, saying, “It’s not like I’m Bruce Willis.”
Indeed, Goodkin is on screen for less than a minute, during a scene in which he places handcuffs on Watson’s character, Nicki, who is based on Bling Ring participant Alexis Neiers.
When Goodkin goes before the Board of Rights, he will face three counts, sources said. He is charged with not obtaining the proper work permit for his time on Coppola’s production, making an alleged false statement to head Deputy Dist. Atty. Barbara Murphy about his work on the movie and ultimately compromising the prosecution’s case.
The L.A. County Superior Court judge who presided over the Bling Ring case, meanwhile, has made his feelings about Goodkin’s effect on the proceedings clear in recent months.
“You should all write a thank you letter to Goodkin, because his judgment is as poor as it gets,” Judge Larry P. Fidler said while addressing the attorneys for Roy Lopez Jr., Courtney Ames and Diana Tamayo at a hearing last July. “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.”
The case never went to trial, however, as all three defendants subsequently accepted plea deals that put them on three years’ probation. Tamayo and Ames were also sentenced to 60 days of community service. In exchange for the pleas, prosecutors dismissed other charges, including burglary.
“You got a break because of what’s happened with this case,” Fidler told Lopez when he was sentenced in November.
If Goodkin escapes being fired, the discipline panel could decide he should be suspended or simply let off with a warning. It could also clear him of any wrongdoing.
In addition to the punishment he might face as a result of his collaboration with Coppola, Goodkin must also contend with the LAPD’s second investigation. That inquiry centers on allegations by Jennifer Issa, whom Goodkin met while building his case against the Bling Ring in 2010.
Issa, a lingerie designer, had hired Neiers to model for Issa’s now-defunct line of clothing. Issa said that upon learning of her relationship with Neiers, Goodkin called her into the North Hollywood Community Police Station. During the meeting, she said, he questioned her about Neiers’ possible involvement in the burglaries — but after the interview concluded, he began making frequent and inappropriate contact with her.
Goodkin also friended Issa on Facebook, through which he allegedly sent her graphic sexual messages.
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