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'Bling ring' attorney is sentenced in a witness tampering case

September 20, 2010 |  5:01 pm

A Sherman Oaks attorney who represented an alleged member of the "bling ring" celebrity burglars was sentenced Monday in an unrelated witness tampering case.

Prosecutors alleged that Sean G. Erenstoft, while representing a defendant in a stalking case, filed a civil case against the plaintiff to dissuade her from testifying against his client at the preliminary hearing.

In the grand jury indictment, prosecutors also alleged that Erenstoft later offered to drop the civil case in exchange for favorable testimony at his client's sentencing.

On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley sentenced Erenstoft, 43, to three years' formal probation and 100 hours of community service. Erenstoft must pay $9,028 in restitution to the victim.

Erenstoft originally was charged with three felonies, including bribing a witness. Under a plea agreement, he pleaded no contest to the single felony count of attempting to dissuade a witness, and the other two criminal counts were dropped.

Prosecutors erroneously said in a news release earlier Monday that Erenstoft had been disbarred. But they later acknowledged that the attorney faces potential disbarment rather than outright disbarment, a decision  ultimately made by the State Bar of California.

Officials said that pleading guilty to a felony involving the practice of law usually involves disbarment. But Erenstoft, who according to the State Bar website remains active, said in an e-mail to The Times that there was no discussion with prosecutors regarding his disbarment.

"I have not been disbarred and there was no deal made concerning my status or future as a lawyer," Erenstoft said.

Erenstoft said he took responsibility for his mistake but that the characterization of his case by prosecutors "obscures more than it reveals."

In the "bling ring" case, Erenstoft represented Nicholas Prugo, 18, of Calabasas, who is charged in connection with eight burglaries of celebrities' homes, including those of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Rachel Bilson.

-- Andrew Blankstein