Courtney Leigh Ames was one of six people charged with snatching more than $3 million (GBP1.9 million) worth of goods from properties belonging to stars including Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom in 2008 and 2009.
In December (12), she pleaded no contest to one count of accepting stolen property from the socialite in exchange for prosecutors dropping three other charges, including felony residential burglary, and on Friday (01Feb13) she was formally ordered to stay out of trouble until 2016 and complete 60 days of community service.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler told Ames, "You caught a break and you know it. This is your chance to straighten out your life."
Hilton declined to seek restitution, reports the Associated Press.
The case has captured the attention of the media, and director Sofia Coppola has even turned the thieving scandal into a new film. The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson and Leslie Mann, is due out later this year (13).
Courtney Leigh Ames was one of six people charged with snatching more than $3 million (GBP1.9 million) worth of goods from properties belonging to stars including Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom between 2008 and 2009.
And on Friday (14Dec12) she pleaded no contest to one count of accepting stolen property from the socialite in exchange for prosecutors dropping three other charges, including felony residential burglary.
Ames, who is due to be formally sentenced on 1 February (13), is expected to be ordered to stay out of trouble until 2016 and complete 60 days of community service.
Hilton declined to seek damages, reports the Associated Press.
The case has captured the attention of the media, with director Sofia Coppola even turning the thieving scandal into a new film. The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson and Leslie Mann, is due out next year (13).
The romantic drama The Vow is not adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel though I doubt its producers would be offended if you’d assumed otherwise. In fact I suspect they’re banking on it. The film’s stars Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are both recognized veterans of the Sparks subgenre – she gave us the indelible (for better or worse) Notebook while he starred in the somewhat less successful Dear John. Moreover its premise pitting love against the insidious after-effects of brain trauma may be inspired by a true story but its one-two punch of tragedy and sentiment is straight out of Sparks’ tear-jerking playbook.
It’s all there in The Vow’s opening montage which first introduces Leo (Tatum) and Paige (McAdams) two desperately smitten bohemian-artist types (she’s a sculptor; he’s a musician/studio owner) and then rudely separates them all in one slick heartbreaking sequence. There’s the meet-cute at the DMV the whirlwind courtship the quirky marriage proposal the kitschy guerrilla wedding (replete with vows scrawled on restaurant menus) and finally the brutal car accident glimpsed in agonizing slow-motion that leaves poor Paige in a coma.
When Paige awakens in the hospital Leo is aghast to discover his wife doesn’t recognize him. While her girl-next-door beauty emerged from the crash remarkably intact it seems her brain did not fare so well suffering injuries that effectively wiped out her memory of the preceding five years – a span comprising the entirety of her relationship with Leo. Her mind’s clock rewound a half-decade Paige assumes the identity of Paige from five years prior like a rebooted computer whose owner neglected to backup the hard drive in a timely manner.
It soon becomes achingly apparent that the Paige from five years prior was markedly different from the Paige we met in the opening credits: a superficial sorority girl on track for a law degree averse to city-dwelling partial to blueberry mojitos cowed by her domineering father (Sam Neill) and engaged to a corporate douche (Scott Speedman). Upon emerging from her slumber she finds the remnants from her old life all-too-eager to re-assimilate their lost lamb into the Bourgeois Borg even if she does have one of those icky tattoos.
In danger of losing the love of his life to her former one a heartbroken Leo resolves to win back Paige even if it means starting from scratch and wooing her all over again. Aligned against him are the grim realities of brain damage as well as Paige’s family and former fiancé whose cult-like efforts at re-education seem ever-creepier the more I contemplate them. (There are unintentional echoes of Total Recall in Paige’s arc which I suppose would make Leo her Kuato.)
Cultishness and Total Recall allusions notwithstanding The Vow flirts with a more unsettling notion one seemingly at odds with the romantic drama mission implying that what we know as love is simply the product of our memories tenuous and transient and not the profound transcendent bond that Hallmark promised.
Fear not: The Vow is by no means a dense metaphysical treatise. Director Michael Sucsy (Grey Gardens) and is far more concerned with heart-tugging than thought-provoking. To that end he steers admirably clear of grand epiphanies and other moments of high melodrama preferring instead to apportion the sap relatively evenly throughout the story. The strategy is less manipulative but also less impactful. The script from Abby Kohn Marc Silverstein and Jason Katims can’t maintain the energy of its opening act and apart from its brain damage twist is a tediously familiar romantic-drama slog. I found myself secretly rooting for some old-fashioned emotional overkill if only to alleviate the boredom.
The two leads for their part form a charming pair. McAdams is as endearing as ever working well within her comfort zone and equally likable Tatum bears his character’s anguish ably even if he’ll never be credible as a bohemian-artist type. Their easy appealing chemistry might be enough to satisfy the Sparks-philes but it’s not enough to sustain the film.
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A string of celebrity homes were targeted by thieves - who became known as the Hollywood Burglar Bunch - in 2009 and five people, three of whom are teenagers, are facing trial in California on felony burglary charges.
Now it has been revealed that all four stars testified in secret back in June (10) as part of the ongoing court proceedings.
The grand jury session testimonies, which were unsealed and obtained by the Associated Press, heard how Lohan felt so "violated" and "uncomfortable" after a break-in at her Los Angeles home that she was compelled to move house.
Speaking just weeks before she was sentenced to jail for probation violation, Lohan told the court, "That night I went back to the house, I just felt, to be honest, so violated and uncomfortable that I literally packed as much stuff as I could, because it wasn't about the things that were taken, it was just the fact that someone came into the only private space that I have in my life at this point."
Bilson admitted the burglary left her so scared she couldn't sleep in her bedroom for four weeks: "It took me a while to feel comfortable staying there. I wouldn't sleep in my bedroom for about a month.
"And I was convinced that I needed to sell my house and get out of there, because I was very scared. But I'm still there."
Other stars to take the stand include Audrina Patridge and Megan Fox's husband Brian Austin Green.
Their testimonies led to the indictment of the five suspects, Nicholas Frank Prugo, Rachel Lee, Roy Lopez Jr., Courtney Leigh Ames and Diana Tamayo. All five pleaded not guilty and are due back in court on 20 September (10).
Nineteen-year-olds Nicholas Prugo, Diana Tamayo and Courtney Leigh Ames, and 27-year-old Roy Lopez Jr were all charged with felony burglary and entered not guilty pleas last month (Dec09).
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has now charged Ames with receiving stolen property, reports TMZ.com.
According to prosecutors, Ames wore a necklace allegedly belonging to Lindsay Lohan to court in November (09). A detective confiscated the jewellery in the courtroom.
Ames was also charged with a second count of receiving stolen property over a leather jacket belonging to Paris Hilton, which she did not wear to court.
Ames' alleged crime partner Prugo also faces seven counts of first-degree burglary for break-ins at celebrity homes including those of Lohan, Bloom, Bilson and Hilton.
A Los Angeles judge also ruled last month (Dec09) that 18-year-old gang suspect Alexis Neiers will stand trial for looting Bloom's property, after Prugo identified her on a security video entering the star's Hollywood Hills home.
Nineteen-year-olds Nicholas Prugo, Diana Tamayo and Courtney Leigh Ames, and 27-year-old Roy Lopez Jr. entered pleas on Wednesday (02Dec09) through their attorneys in a Los Angeles court.
All four face felony burglary counts.
In addition, Prugo faces seven counts of first-degree burglary for break-ins at celebrity homes including those of Lohan, Bloom, Bilson and Paris Hilton.
A Los Angeles judge also ruled this month (Dec09) 18-year-old gang suspect Alexis Neiers will stand trial for looting Bloom's property, after Prugo identified her on a security video entering the star's Hollywood Hills home.
Informant Prugo's request that his case be separated from the others has so far been denied.
Nick Prugo is one of five people - three of them teenagers - accused of breaking into celebrity homes and stealing designer clothing, jewellery and cash.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney charged the five gang members with various crimes on Wednesday (28Oct09) - the teens, Diana Tamayo, Courtney Ames and Alexis Neirs have been charged with felony first degree residential burglary of stars ranging from Lohan, Ashley Tisdale, Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom.
The fifth member, Roy Lopez, Jr., has been charged with felony first degree residential burglary of Paris Hilton, according to TMZ.com.
The gang, featuring teenagers Diana Tamayo and Courtney Ames, was arrested within the last two weeks, and all members are currently free on bail.
But that could all change if police chiefs get their way.
Lohan's home was allegedly robbed by members of the gang this summer (09), while the accused thieves hit Patridge's estate in February (09).
Some of the youngsters have also been linked to similar crimes at homes belonging to Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Rachel Bilson.
TMZ.com reports police have officially handed the case over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Charges are expected to be filed later on Wednesday (27Oct09).
A sixth gang member, Rachel Lee, is not expected to be charged today as there's currently insufficient evidence linking her to any crime.
Los Angeles police have so far taken six people into custody on burglary charges following break-ins at Lohan's house in August (09) and Patridge's property in February (09).
But the producer dad of 18-year-old Alexis Neiers, who was arrested last Thursday (22Oct09), is adamant his daughter had no idea what she was getting into when she allegedly joined fellow teens Courtney Ames and Diana Tamayo on the raids.
Mikel Neiers, director of photography for hit TV shows Friends and Spin City, tells People.com, "She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, associating with the wrong people. She got sucked into this. We're standing by her."
And the defiant parent is confident the allegations against Alexis will be dropped when the case goes before a judge.
He adds, "I'm sure (the case against her is) going to be thrown out of court."
Alexis' attorney Jeffery Rubenstein states, "I expect my client will be fully vindicated when all the facts of the case come out. At this time, no formal charges have been filed against her. When the time is right, she will tell her side of the story."
Roy Lopez, a bouncer at a bar in Calabasas, California, Rachel Lee, 19, and Nicholas Prugo, 18, have also been held by cops over the burglaries.
Alexis Neirs is attached to a reality show pilot with U.S. cable network E! called The Arlington family.
A spokesman for E! says, "Shooting began several days ago and will continue for the next few weeks. We are concerned by recent events, awaiting further details and will be monitoring the situation closely."
The 18 year old was arrested along with fellow teens Courtney Ames and Diana Tamayo, and 27-year-old Roy Lopez on Thursday (22Oct09) on charges of felony burglary.