Judge sends Lohan to jail in necklace theft case

2011-04-23 08:15

Los Angeles – Actress Lindsay Lohan was released from a Los Angeles County jail Friday night, just hours after she was sentenced to 120 days for violating her probation by taking a designer necklace.

It was a deja vu day for the starlet, who was admonished by a judge – the fourth she’s faced in nearly a year – who said she thought the actress had intentionally taken the $2?500 (nearly R17?000) necklace from an upscale Venice store and shown poor judgment in not trying to return it until police became involved.

But by reducing the actress’ charge from felony grand theft to a misdemeanour, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner may have set in motion what has become a familiar cycle for Lohan - being sent to jail only to have the sentence cut short due to jail overcrowding.

Lohan’s attorney Shawn Holley filed a notice of appeal right before court closed, clearing the way for the actress’ release on bail.

She was freed at 9:20pm after posting $75?000 bail, according to the sheriff department’s website.

Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers, who presented four witnesses who described Lohan’s conduct in the jewellery store and with the necklace, said her office would consider appealing the ruling as well. “We believe there was a clear abuse of discretion,” she said.

Sautner agreed with Meyers that Lohan showed intent to keep the necklace, and said that she thought Lohan’s conduct probably warranted a felony.

“I see the intent here,” Sautner said. “I see a level of brazenness with, ‘Let me see what I can get away with here’.”

But the judge said felony grand theft cases involving higher-valued goods are often reduced to the misdemeanour level and thought it was appropriate in Lohan’s case.

“I’m going to give her an opportunity,” the judge said.

She also said she hoped to give the Mean Girls and Freaky Friday star a dose of perspective by sentencing her to almost 500 hours of community service, including time at the county morgue and 300 hours at a women’s shelter.

Lohan did not visibly react to the sentence. She cried earlier in the day when Holley told Sautner that Lohan had been punished enough, and recounted the treatment programmes the actress has completed since her first arrest for drunken driving in 2007.

Her father, Michael Lohan, put his hands over his face at times Friday and bolted from the courtroom after his daughter was led away by sheriff’s personnel.

It was the fourth time Lohan has been sentenced to jail, although two of the trips amounted to a few hours. Last summer, she spent 14 days in jail on a 90 day sentence.

The actress did not address the court during Friday’s hearing, but frequently conferred with Holley and shook her head when witnesses described some of her actions inside the jewellery store, Kamofie & Co.

Lohan has been a courthouse fixture since last May when she missed a hearing in her drunken driving case. Since then, two judges have sent her to jail twice and rehab, also twice.

She rejected two plea offers to end the necklace case early, including one in which Meyers was seeking six months in jails, the prosecutor said Friday.

Meyers’ witnesses included two police officers who handled the stolen necklace case, including one who received it from Lohan’s assistant after detectives obtained a search warrant – which was never served – to retrieve it from the actress’ home.

The investigative detective also testified that she verified the actress wore the necklace days after it was taken and was photographed with it by paparazzi.

Lohan made three visits within a week to a jewellery store that accused her of stealing the necklace but never purchased anything before leaving with the item, the shop’s owner testified.

Sofia Kaman said she waited a day to report the necklace stolen because Lohan had told her she would return the next day to purchase a ring.

The actress never returned. The first time Kaman saw Lohan since the January 22 store visit was Friday.

Kaman says she did not have any agreement with Lohan allowing her to leave the store with the necklace.

Lohan was wearing two of her own necklaces when entered the store, and she wore both pieces to court on Friday, taking them off at one point while her attorney cross-examined Kaman.

Holley showed Kaman the necklaces and questioned her about why she didn’t notice the actress was still wearing the store’s necklace, even though Lohan’s neck - and by Holley’s description, cleavage - were clearly visible.

“I wasn’t looking at her chest,” Kaman said. “I was looking at her face.”

It is unclear what effect the sentence may have on Lohan’s next acting role. Producers of the film Gotti: Three Generations announced on Wednesday that Lohan had been cast to play the wife of John Gotti Jr in the film.

She told The Associated Press afterward she didn’t think her court case would affect her work.

“I think in the past, I had a lot of distractions,” she said.

“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve lived a lot. When I’m on set, it’s about the film.”

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