Between 2008 and 2009, a gaggle of fame-hungry teens and 20-somethings burglarized the homes of some of Hollywood’s hottest young stars, including Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Paris Hilton. Now Sofia Coppola is bringing the story of the so-called “Bling Ring” to the big screen with a cast full of big names like Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga (sister of Vera), and reportedly Kirsten Dunst. The catch? Her film might hurt the LAPD’s real-life case against these young criminals.
The testimony of Detective Brett Goodkin, who played a pivotal role in bringing down the Bling Ring, will likely be crucial during the trials of Courtney Ames, Diana Tamayo and Roy Lopez Jr., the case’s three remaining defendants. But, as The L.A. Times writes, Goodkin may have damaged his credibility by serving as a technical advisor to Coppola’s movie and playing himself on screen.
Though police officers are frequently paid to lend their expertise to films about crimes, legal experts say Goodkin’s involvement in Bling Ring crosses a line because the case depicted in the film is still in court. As criminal defense attorney Thomas Mesereau told the Times, “This looks very unsavory. … Clearly, it presents a conflict of interest if someone’s investigation becomes oriented toward creating a story or entertainment. It’s certainly going to taint the investigation’s motives and make them look unprofessional.”
Goodwin himself told the paper that as a consultant, he only gave Coppola “generic cop kind of stuff” rather than sensitive information about the case itself. The director also hired Alexis Neiers, a key member of the Bling Ring (and the former star of E!’s Pretty Wild), to serve as an advisor for the film. Coppola also approached Nicholas Prugo, the group’s alleged ringleader, but his attorney advised him against taking the gig.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office apparently didn’t know about Goodwin’s actions until the Times contacted them for comment.