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Judge rejects 'bling ring' defendant's plea-deal argument

May 12, 2010 |  2:44 pm

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected arguments Wednesday by lawyers for a defendant in the "bling ring" celebrity burglary case that their client provided details of the crimes and his accomplices because he had what amounted to a plea deal.

Judge Darrell Mavis said the discussions Nicholas Prugo had with detectives do not amount to a plea-bargain agreement for leniency.

Prugo, 19, is charged with seven burglaries at the homes of such stars as Orlando Bloom, Audrina Patridge, Paris Hilton, Brian Austin Green and Rachel Bilson.

Prugo’s attorneys argued in lengthy motions that he had a “tacit contract” and implied deal with the Los Angeles Police Department when he provided a meticulously detailed account of the burglaries and named his accomplices.

Attorneys Daniel A. Horowitz and Mark Dombois wrote in court filings that prosecutors failed to provide an adequate offer of leniency and would have been unable to recover the stolen property or build cases against other defendants without Prugo’s cooperation.

The attorneys said Prugo had been labeled "a rat" and "snitch" because of his cooperation.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Sarika Kim argued that police never promised Prugo or his former attorney, Sean Erenstoft, leniency or immunity and never directed the LAPD to do so. Kim said the motion was premature and that an offer may come later.

The judge noted that an LAPD officer had provided a letter detailing Prugo’s cooperation.

Prugo’s lawyers will seek at a May 21 hearing to exclude his statements to authorities and are expected to argue that he had ineffective legal counsel.

Prugo is slated for a preliminary hearing May 25 along with four others charged in the burglaries. Rachel Lee, 19, is charged with break-ins at the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Hilton and Patridge. Diana Tamayo, 20 is charged with burglarizing the houses of Ashley Tinsdale and Lohan. Courtney Ames, 19, and Roy Lopez Jr., 28, are charged with a burglary at Hilton’s home.

Alexis Neiers, 18, a reality television performer, pleaded no contest Monday to felony residential burglary in a break-in at Bloom’s home last July and was sentenced to six months in jail.

-- Richard Winton

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