Judge refuses to dismiss celebrity burglary case

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge refused to dismiss charges Friday against a group accused of burglarizing celebrities’ homes based on an officer’s paid work on a film about the case, but called the investigator’s actions “stupid” and a gift for defense attorneys.

An attorney for Roy Lopez Jr., who is charged with burglarizing Paris Hilton’s home, argued the $12,500 paid to the lead investigator for work on Sofia Coppola’s upcoming film on the case was outrageous conduct that justified a dismissal.

Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler disagreed during Friday’s hearing, but criticized Los Angeles Police Officer Brett Goodkin’s work on “The Bling Ring.”

“His judgment is as poor as it gets,” Fidler said, adding that he would allow defense attorneys for three remaining defendants to extensively question him about his credibility during trial.

“It’s not outrageous. It’s not flagrant. It’s not egregious,” Fidler said. “It’s stupid. You can have a field day with him.”

Lopez’s attorney, David Diamond, argued that Goodkin’s work on the film was especially problematic because he may try to embellish his testimony.

Goodkin, who was not present for Friday’s hearing, interrogated many of the defendants and helped build the case against the so-called “Bling Ring” that stole more than $3 million in clothes, jewelry and art from the homes of stars such as Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green.

Goodkin was paid for being a consultant on Coppola’s film “The Bling Ring,” which stars Emma Watson and is currently being edited by the Oscar-winning writer-director. He also filmed a scene in which he arrests Watson’s character, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported Goodkin’s involvement in the film.

“My client would certainly agree that in retrospect he was ill-advised, but nothing my client did impaired the integrity of the prosecution,” said Ira Salzman, an attorney representing Goodkin.

Diamond said after the hearing that defense attorneys are investigating new allegations of improper behavior by Goodkin and may bring another motion to dismiss all charges at a Sept. 7 court hearing. He said attorneys will continue to challenge Goodkin’s credibility in court before trial “until the stupidity transforms into outrageous conduct” and warrants a dismissal.

Goodkin’s credibility has been repeatedly questioned. Diana Tamayo, who is accused of breaking into Lohan’s home, claimed she was coerced to confess after officers threatened her family with deportation and failed to properly administer a warning that she could remain silent. Fidler rejected a motion to dismiss charges against Tamayo.

Lopez, Tamayo and Courtney Leigh Ames have all pleaded not guilty to having a role in the break-ins. Three other defendants have resolved their cases through plea deals and the group’s alleged ringleader, Nicholas Prugo, has agreed to testify against Lopez and the remaining defendants.

Diamond said between Goodkin and Prugo, the prosecution is left with two witnesses who have severe credibility problems, which will benefit Lopez if the case proceeds to trial.

“There’s not a shred of evidence against him and now we have the outrageous and egregious behavior of the officer assigned to supervise the case,” Diamond said.

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