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Burglary suspects used Internet to target celebs

February 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A teenage burglary suspect pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday. Prosecutors allege she's part of the so-called "Bling Ring," targeting big-name Hollywood celebrities.The "Bling Ring" is believed to have gotten away with millions of dollars in jewelry and other valuables.

They're accused of taking as much as $3 million worth of personal items belonging to celebrities.

One of the defendants appeared on "Good Morning America" Wednesday, saying the group did their research on the Internet, taking note of the clothing and jewelry their targets owned and when the stars would be out of their homes. That's how they knew when to strike. The suspects referred to the burglaries as "going shopping."

In a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, 19-year-old Rachel Lee pleaded not guilty to three counts of residential burglary and two counts of receiving stolen property.

The Las Vegas woman is accused of being a member of the Bling Ring, a group of teens who police say broke into the homes of several young Hollywood elite, stealing millions of dollars in cash, clothing and jewelry.

Their targets include Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom.

"I feel really bad for what I did," said Nick Prugo, a Bling Ring member, on "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning.

Prugo, who also pleaded not guilty to Bling Ring charges, apologized for his actions on "GMA," saying he's returned some of the stolen items and is cooperating with authorities. Other Bling Ring defendants are reportedly now calling him a "rat."

"They're going to say what they're going to say. If me taking responsibility for my crimes and trying to help out the police makes me a rat, then so be it. I'm just trying to make amends and and do right," said Prugo.

Prugo blames peer pressure for in his actions and explains how he and his friends, all from affluent neighborhoods, got caught up in the dangerous burglaries.

"It started out small -- cars, just looking at little things. And then it escalated into homes, and then celebrities' homes, and it became very big, very fast, and I don't think any of us realized how severe it was until we actually got caught," said Prugo.

The other teens who face charges are Courtney Leigh Ames, Diana Tamayo and Alexis Christine Neiers, who made her court appearance with a reality-TV crew documenting the whole thing.

Defendant Rachel Lee is expected back in court on February 10.


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