Lindsay Lohan could be back in court next week if she takes a plea deal in the continuing saga of whether she stole a $2,500 necklace from a trendy Venice Beach jewelry store not far from her home. If Lohan decides against the plea agreement, the 24-year-old actress will return to court next month for a hearing to see if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Lohan arrived at the Airport Branch Courthouse shortly before 9 a.m. on Thursday, dressed in a tight leather dress, black stockings, and high heels. She was flanked by her mother, Dina, and her younger sister, Ali. Inside the courtroom, Dina and Ali were surrounded by three rows of entertainment journalists and Lohan fans. During the short hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz gave Lohan till March 25 to mull over whether she will accept his confidential offer for a plea deal. The plea deal will most likely lead to jail time.
"The only reason you'll be here is to plead guilty or no contest to the charge and accept the parameters of the court's offer," Schwartz said. "If you and your attorney decide not to settle this case before prelim, you do not have to appear on March 25."
But Lohan is rumored to be against that plan. If she doesn’t accept the offer, a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 22. That hearing will also include a hearing to discuss whether Lohan violated her probation in a 2007 misdemeanor DUI case.
Schwartz, who met privately with the attorneys yesterday, pleaded with them to keep the details of the plea deal confidential. Schwartz said he was irked by the perpetual leaks to media outlets, including TMZ and RadarOnline.
“Thankfully, this case doesn't involve military secrets where people's lives are at stake, because I can't believe how these things leak out, how TMZ, RadarOnline, all of these, I don't know how,” said Schwartz.
``I respect both of the attorneys are completely honorable. They requested confidentiality. I certainly, I don't even tell my wife what's going on. So I can't understand how they find out this information. I'm just, please respect the confidentiality nature of these agreements. It's not fair for either side to have these things leaked out in dribs or drabs. It's not right. Cases should be litigated in court, in a courtroom, so then everybody can hear what's going on. It doesn't benefit anybody, so please try as our understanding was to keep whatever offer I made confidential.''
If Lohan agrees to the plea deal, Schwartz asked her attorney to file it under seal “so it will be my eyes only.”
Earlier this week, the owners of the jewelry store, Kamofie and Company, sold the security video purporting to show Lohan stealing the necklace. The video aired on Entertainment Tonight, which worked out a deal with the Associated Press’ commercial images division to air the video exclusively.
Kamofie & Co. spokesman Christopher Spencer said the Associated Press was approached after the family was inundated with media requests for the footage. “The pressure after two months was so intense they had to make a decision to let Associated Press circulate the video.”
Spencer said there was also too much speculation about the video recording, and that “It was right for the public to be able to see the video itself.”
Spencer would not say how much the family made off the sale of the video. “At this point at this moment the family has not received any money from the AP,” he said.
But when the news of the video release hit the gossip websites, the owners of the store announced they planned to auction off the one-of-a-kind necklace and donate the proceeds to charity after they get it back from the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Kamofie and Co. have been put on trial through the gossip columnists showing up at their front door,” said Spencer. “They felt they only had the alternative to let it happen and now their integrity is in question.” Spencer said the family has received death threats and hate mail.
Lohan pleaded not guilty on February 9 to stealing a gold necklace with semi-precious stones from the Venice boutique.
The storeowner reported the alleged theft of the necklace to the Los Angeles police. On Feb. 1, the LAPD’s Pacific Division obtained a search warrant to search Lohan’s Venice apartment for the piece, but it was handed over to police before the search warrant was served, according to police.
The troubled star came under suspicion after she was allegedly seen on the store security video wearing the necklace before it was reported missing. Lohan has reportedly denied the allegations, saying she was loaned the necklace.
Lohan is on probation for drunken driving, and she is facing potential prosecution by Riverside County prosecutors for shoving an employee at the Betty Ford Center, where she was being treated. The employee later told police that she did not want to press charges. Lohan arrived at the center, in Rancho Mirage, after she admitted to failing a drug test soon after being given early release from another rehab facility. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox told Lohan that he would put her in jail for six months if she violated her probation again.
Christine Pelisek is staff reporter for The Daily Beast, covering crime. She previously was a reporter at the LA Weekly, where she covered crime for the last five years. In 2008, she won three Los Angeles Press Club awards, one for her investigative story on the Grim Sleeper.