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‘Bling Ring’ leader and another man abruptly plead guilty to stalking after judge dismisses solicitation of rape charge

Nicholas Frank Prugo
Nicholas Prugo, right, one the leaders of the “Bling Ring” burglary crew that targeted celebrities, pleaded guilty to stalking.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

A leader of the “Bling Ring” — the celebrity burglary scheme that drew headlines and inspired a movie of the same name — and another man pleaded guilty Monday to stalking a West Hollywood skin-care guru after a judge gutted the case by tossing out the more serious charge of solicitation to commit rape.

Nicholas Prugo, 25, and Edward Feinstein, 32, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count each of stalking Dawn DaLuise, the proprietor of a “skin refinery” that catered to celebrities, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The pair did not strike a deal with prosecutors but opted for the plea after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan dismissed the solicitation of rape charge.

Tynan cited insufficient evidence that was presented during a 12-hour preliminary hearing that took place over several days in late July and early August.

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Prosecutors had previously dropped charges that the men stalked DaLuise’s daughters. Tynan also reduced the felony stalking charge to a misdemeanor, setting the stage for the sudden plea deal — an anti-climatic ending for a case that became regular tabloid fodder.

Prugo was a member of the Bling Ring burglary crew of teens and twentysomethings accused of stealing more than $3 million in jewelry and designer apparel from the homes of celebrities Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom, among others.

Prugo and Feinstein are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 24.

The district attorney’s office had alleged the pair schemed to stalk DaLuise and her two daughters between Dec. 1, 2013, and April 1, 2014. The pair, prosecutors said, published an online ad seeking men to visit DaLuise’s residence and sexually assault her.

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DaLuise was arrested in 2014 and charged with trying to solicit the assault and murder of a business competitor, Gabriel Suarez. Prosecutors said DaLuise targeted Suarez after he opened a skin-care boutique next to her business.

But in January 2015, after just an hour of deliberations, a Los Angeles jury acquitted DaLuise of all charges

West Hollywood skin-care specialist found not guilty of plotting to kill rival »

A subsequent lawsuit by DeLuise alleges that the stalking was the work of Feinstein, who was also telling detectives that DaLuise was colluding with him to make it look like Suarez was targeting her. Feinstein, the suit says, provided detectives with the texts that were ultimately used as evidence against DaLuise.

Feinstein was arrested on suspicion of stalking DaLuise in 2014 but was released.

After being convicted in the Bling Ring crimes, Prugo served one year of a two-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree residential burglary.

The burglaries were famously chronicled in a movie directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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