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'Bling Ring' detective Brett Goodkin consults for movie, may complicate prosecution

Members of the alleged "Bling Ring." Top row, left to right: Diana Tamayo, Johnny Ajar, Alexis Neiers. Bottom row, left to right: Nick Prugo, Courtney Ames, Roy Lopez Jr. Wikipedia

(CBS) LOS ANGELES - A police officer's work as a technical adviser to Sofia Coppola's new film, "The Bling Ring," could significantly complicate the prosecution of the real life case, according to legal experts.

The Los Angeles Times reports that filmmaker Coppola wanted to tell the story of the alleged "bling ring" accurately and authentically, so she contacted Brett Goodkin, a Los Angeles Police Department detective who cracked the case of the San Fernando Valley youths.

Members of the "bling ring" are accused in a rash of break-ins at celebrities' homes that netted more than $3 million in high-end goods. The group allegedly targeted the homes of stars such as Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan before members of the group were arrested in late 2009.

Goodkin is serving as a paid consultant on the film. However, according to experts, Goodkin's actions are unusual because the case is still in court. Many say his financial interest in the movie will likely become an issue raised by the defense and could cause significant difficulties in the prosecution's case.

Thomas Maserau, a criminal defense attorney, said "This looks very unsavory, and it could make a big difference in attacking the credibility of the investigator."

"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."

Goodkin is even playing himself on screen. In a scene he recently filmed, he put handcuffs on Emma Watson, the actress playing one of the burglars.

Goodkin, whose testimony is expected to be central at the trial of the three remaining "bling ring" defendants, supposedly never told prosecutors of his involvement in the film.

When the Times informed the public of the officer's role, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office expressed shock and said, "We did not know, and now that we do we have to evaluate what impact this may have."

Goodkin said that he informed LAPD supervisors in January of his work on the film. However, an LAPD spokesman said that they are now putting Goodkin under investigation for failing to get proper approval.

According to Goodkkin, "All she (Coppola) knew from me was very generic cop kind of stuff, ensuring that her end product was plausible."

Attorney Robert A. Schwartz, who represents defendant Courtney Ames, expressed frustration with Goodkin's role in the production.

"For him to be paid to play himself in a film where he is a critical witness against my client is highly inappropriate, and I'll certainly make sure the jury knows about it," he said.

Goodkin said he was interested in helping out with the film because of a desire to learn about the process of movie-making.

"I wanted to see what Sofia was going to do with the story. It's interesting to see how things work in a factory town, and I'm certain I'll never work on a movie again," he said. "Look, it's not like I was chosen because I am detective of the year. We don't choose the cases we get. It's not like there's a character based on me. It's not like I'm Bruce Willis."

Complete coverage of the "Bling Ring"celebrity burglary case on Crimesider