Celebrity burglary suspect takes plea deal

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By ANTHONY McCARTNEY, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man accused of leading a series of burglaries at the Hollywood Hills homes of celebrities pleaded no contest Friday to stealing from Lindsay Lohan and reality star Audrina Patridge.

Nicholas Frank Prugo spoke softly as he entered the pleas under a deal that includes two years in state prison and requires him to testify against three remaining defendants charged with breaking into the home of Paris Hilton and Lohan.

Prugo and others were accused of break-ins that netted more than $3 million in jewelry, high-end clothes, art and other goods. Most of the property has never been recovered.

Prugo, 21, was initially charged with burglarizing the homes of Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Rachel Bilson, but those counts were dropped in exchange for his plea. He will be responsible for restitution awards stemming from the break-ins, prosecutor Christine Kee said.

"Nick is doing the right thing," his attorney Markus Mueller-Dombois said after the hearing.

Prugo could face serious penalties if he does not testify, including more than seven years in state prison. He will also be considered a two-strike felon after sentencing, which could bring lengthy prison time if he commits another felony.

Prugo pleaded no contest to two counts of felony residential burglary and was set for sentencing May 4 or after the cases against the remaining defendants have concluded.

Neither Lohan or Patridge, a star of MTV series "The Hills," attended Friday's hearing.

Two others charged in the case, Rachel Lee and Alexis Neiers, also accepted plea deals. Prugo said Lee helped plan the break-ins. She was sentenced to four years in state prison after pleading no contest to burglarizing Patridge's home.

The plea deals have spared the stars from testifying at trials about the break-ins. However, several appeared before a grand jury in 2010.

"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," Lohan told the panel.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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