Nicholas Prugo is one of the key members of the so-called Bling Ring who allegedly stole designer clothing, jewellery and cash from properties owned by Hilton, as well as other stars including Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Rachel Bilson.
The 19 year old has pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony first-degree residential burglary, but the criminal case has not stopped him going public with his story. He has appeared on U.S. TV's Good Morning America and given an interview to Vanity Fair magazine, in which he mentions his alleged raid on Hilton's home - claiming he found a stash of cocaine at the star's property.
He told the magazine, "(Hilton is) dumb. Like, who would leave a door unlocked? Who would leave a lot of money lying around. We found about, like, five grams of coke in Paris’ house."
Prugo's lawyer, David Diamond, insists his client “did not steal anything” from Hilton, and the socialite's representative has spoken out to deny the teenager's story.
Dawn Miller, a spokeswoman for Hilton, tells the magazine, “I don’t know why anyone would listen to allegations made by a self-confessed thief."
Rachel Lee surrendered herself to the Los Angeles Police Department on 13 January (10) - the same day the Los Angeles District Attorney issued a warrant for her arrest relating to five felonies of burglary and receiving stolen goods.
She was booked and released after posting $150,000 (£93,750) bail, according to TMZ.com.
Her attorney Peter Korn entered Lee's not guilty plea at a Los Angeles hearing on Wednesday (03Feb10) but declined further comment.
Lee is suspected of involvement in raids on homes belonging to Hilton, Bloom, reality star Audrina Patridge and Mean Girls actress Lindsay Lohan.
Nicholas Prugo is one of the key members of the so-called Bling Ring who has confessed to stealing designer clothing, jewellery and cash from properties owned by Lohan, Bloom, Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson and The Hills star Audrina Patridge.
Prugo, 18, was one of five people - three of whom are teenagers - who were arrested last year (09) and charged with felony first-degree residential burglary. But he insists he's sorry and is doing all he can to make up for his actions.
During an appearance on U.S. TV's Good Morning America on Wednesday (03Feb10), he said, "I'm definitely sorry for what I've done. I'm definitely taking responsibility for my crimes and I'm just starting to make amends with my victims. I feel really bad for what I did.
"I started by giving the stuff back, everything I had in my possession, helping the police with their investigation. It's been difficult. I'm just trying to do what I can."
Prugo, who blames peer pressure for being drawn into the gang, reveals the burglaries had been going on for more than a year and is adamant there was no one person acting as ringleader.
He explains, "There's a lot of factors (why they committed the crimes). Obviously there was the thrill of it. These were people I trusted, they were my best friends and it was the peer pressure, trying to please them and keep my friends.
"It was a shared responsibility, there was a team of us. It didn't just happen overnight, this was built up over a year and a half and it escalated. It started out small, (breaking into) cars, little things, then it escalated into homes, celebrity homes, and it became really big, really fast. I don't think any of us realised how severe it was until we actually got caught and it came to light... It wasn't OK, it definitely wasn't OK."
Prugo has come under fire and even been threatened for helping authorities identify other members of the burglary gang, leading to their arrests.
But he has no regrets for turning into a "rat": "They're gonna say what they're gonna say and if me taking responsibility for my crimes and helping the police makes me a rat, then so be it. When I confessed it was for my own conscience, for me to sleep at night... It's a difficult time for me and I've embarrassed myself and my family so much, I'm just really sorry."
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.
Rachel Lee was arrested in Nevada last year (09) for possession of stolen goods but she was never charged with stealing from the stars - until now.
According to TMZ.com, five of the other alleged members of the gang face a total of 12 counts of felony first degree residential burglary.
As well as Hilton and Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge and Megan Fox were also targets of the burglars.
Nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel, who is yet to officially speak out about her alleged romance with the golf star, is in negotiations with the men's magazine, according to U.S. TV news show Extra.
Uchitel, 34, was the first woman publicly outed as one of Tiger Woods' alleged mistresses. She has denied a relationship with the golfer.
TV legal analyst Lisa Bloom, whose mother Gloria Allred represents Uchitel, says Woods struck a deal with Uchitel to keep her quiet about their alleged affair. Bloom believes the settlement was worth "at least a million dollars".
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.
Judge Darrell Mavis rejected an argument that 18-year-old Alexis Neiers had no idea the home she and three pals allegedly raided in July (09) belonged to the British movie star.
The teen's attorney also told the court on Tuesday (01Dec09) his client never intended to commit a felony.
Another alleged member of the so-called Bling-Ring, Nicholas Prugo, 18, identified Neiers as one of four people seen on a security video entering Bloom's Hollywood Hills home.
Two other alleged members of the burglary gang, Diane Tamayo, 19, and Rachel Lee, 18, were also identified. Tamayo has been charged in the case.
In a story published Friday, The New York Times looks at the intersection of celebrity, teen culture, reality TV and the Internet that is the recent spate of burglaries at the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and other celebrities.
The Bling Ring, as the Los Angeles Times has come to call it, is made up of mostly 18- and 19-year-olds who used celebrity Web sites to figure out when their victims' homes would be vulnerable. It doesn't hurt the chances of the group becoming the subject of a movie that the teenagers "look like the cast of Twilight," as one Hollywood lawyer put it.
Six accused members of the band have been charged with residential burglary and other crimes.
Rachel Lee, 18, is said to be the ringleader and was arrested in Las Vegas. She is expected to be charged soon.
Nowadays, celebrities are close enough to reach out and touch, even more so thanks to gossip Web sites that track the nightly antics of young Hollywood. "Young people see a lifestyle on television and have peer pressure and constant bombardment from media to have what other people have, to want what other people want and to try to live the dream," Jason Peirce, the host of Calabasas Teen Forum, a local cable television program, told the NYT.
Police say that some of the stolen bling was fenced for cash, while other items were kept as trophies. The paper goes on to look at the private lives of the suspected celebuthieves themselves.
Lee "dressed very trendy, things like what celebrities wore," Dani Ley, a classmate, told the paper. "Everyone would be in jeans and shorts. She would come in fancy jean skirts and fancy tops." But friends also said Lee had trouble at home.
The stealing started small about two years ago, said Sean Erenstoft, a lawyer for one of the other accused, Nicholas Prugo.
"Rachel for fun would break into cars in rich neighborhoods," Erenstoft told the paper. "She would yank on the handles of cars to see if they were locked. They find an open door, grab a roach."
That version of events was disputed by David Diamond, the lawyer for 27-year-old Roy Lopez Jr. He said that it was Prugo who was the mastermind and is pointing the finger at everyone else.
By late last year, according to court documents, Prugo and others burglarized Paris Hilton's home in Sherman Oaks by entering through an open door and making off with jewelry and other belongings.
It is unclear why the teenagers graduated from parked cars to celebrity homes, but once they did they apparently found the Internet an excellent aid: They consulted sites to learn of stars' comings and goings and celebrityaddressaerial.com to learn their home addresses, the NYT says.
In coverage of the Bling Ring, the NYT points out, there has been much speculation about what turns teenagers to such crimes: lax parenting? Have children raised on reality TV and intimate-sounding Tweets from movie stars lost all boundaries between the screen and themselves?
Blair Berk, a lawyer who has represented Lindsay Lohan and other celebrities, said that in the brief comments some Bling Ring members have made to the ubiquitous video cameras that now follow them, they seem to be having a good time.
"Wait until they become the people they robbed," she said. "Give it 60 days before these kids are household names."
Five teens, three of them female, have been charged with residential burglary after being arrested in connection to the raids on the homes of several young Hollywood stars.
Designer clothing, jewellery and cash was taken from properties belonging to Lohan, Bloom and Bilson, as well as Audrina Patridge and Ashley Tisdale.
Now, Jonathan Ajar has been charged after police searched his home in connection to the burglaries.
Police confirm the 27 year old handed himself in, but was not charged with residential burglary - instead he was charged with possessing a firearm and drugs at his Los Angeles property.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles District Attorney's office says, "We didn't file any charges against him related to the actual burglary.
"We charged him with multiple counts of possession, for sale of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm."