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Leader sentenced to 4 years in celebrity home burglary 'bling ring'

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
Police say the group targeted actress Rachel Bilson because it was known she had a large Chanel collection.
Police say the group targeted actress Rachel Bilson because it was known she had a large Chanel collection.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ringleader Rachel Lee, 21, is sentenced for burglarizing the home of a reality TV star
  • A judge dismisses three other charges against her
  • Four other defendants have been charged in a ring that allegedly took $3 million in goods
  • Celebrity victims include Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A leader of the so-called "Bling Ring" that burglarized celebrity homes in Los Angeles was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison, a prosecutor said.

Rachel Lee, 21, was sentenced for burglarizing two years ago the home of reality star Audrina Patridge of "The Hills," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Chris Baker said.

Lee allegedly took more than $25,000 in jewelry, designer luggage, clothes, shoes, boots and watches from Patridge's home on Feb. 23, 2009. She pleaded no contest last month to one count of first-degree residential burglary.

In his sentencing Tuesday, Judge Larry Paul Fidler dismissed one felony count of conspiracy to commit burglary and two counts of receiving stolen property against Lee, prosecutors said.

Lee's restitution will be determined at a later date, authorities said.

The remaining four defendants -- Nicholas Prugo, 20; Diana Tamayo, 21; Courtney Leigh Ames, 20; and Roy Lopez Jr., 29 -- will be back in court on November 18 for motions and pretrial hearings, prosecutors said.

The ring is accused of allegedly taking more than $3 million in jewelry, designer clothes and accessories from the homes of Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton, Brian Austin-Green and Megan Fox, Lindsay Lohan and Patridge between September 2008 and August 2009, prosecutors said.

The four remaining defendants have pleaded not guilty, prosecutors said.

Lohan's home was burglarized on August 2009, and an estimated $128,000 in jewelry, designer clothes and accessories was taken, authorities said.

Authorities said they believe an obsession with celebrity culture -- and breaking inside their homes and wearing their clothing -- could be the motivation for the alleged crimes.

The group targeted celebrities such as actress Rachel Bilson, police said, because it was known she had a large collection of Chanel. They allegedly studied celebrity magazines to pick out the clothing and jewelry that they wanted, and would then use the Internet to study satellite maps of the victim's home before deciding on the best method for entry, police said.

At first, police treated them as separate incidents, but after reviewing surveillance video from Patridge and Lohan's homes, they began to notice several similarities and realized that the incidents were related.

"There's nothing to suggest that these kids were criminal masterminds -- this wasn't an 'Ocean's 11' caper," Los Angeles Police Department Officer Brett Goodkin told CNN in 2009. "It's really a series of quite run-of-the-mill residential burglaries, except they targeted the victims for who they are."

The ring of suspected young adult burglars has also been dubbed the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch.

CNN's Rosalina Nieves contributed to this report.

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