A judge in Los Angeles banned photographers on Thursday from picturing the five suspects charged in the ‘dognapping’ of Lady Gaga’s two French bulldogs, issuing a draconian order to shield their identity.
The four men and one woman pleaded not guilty on Thursday afternoon before Judge Victoria Wilson, presiding over Los Angeles Superior Court.
Three of the suspects — James Jackson, 18; Jaylin White, 19; and Lafayette Whaley, 27 — have been charged with attempted murder and armed robbery, according to the LAPD.
Jackson, who also faces one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and a felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, had his bail set at more than $3 million.
White also faces one count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
The three are described by police as documented gang members, who targeted the bulldogs because they knew of their high value. When bought from reputable breeders, the animals can cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
They were not aware that Gaga was the owner, the police said, amid claims robberies were part of a gang initiation.
Two additional defendants — Harold White, a known gang member and the 40-year-old father of Jaylin White, and his girlfriend Jennifer McBride, 50 — are accused of acting as accessories after the fact by helping conceal the stolen animals.
McBride was released on bail on Thursday, after her lawyers argued that she was diabetic and did not have her insulin with her. She was ordered to remain under house arrest, leaving only to go to work, and wear a GPS ankle monitor.
Lady Gaga is pictured with her French bulldog Koji, who was stolen on February 24
McBride is said to have returned the dogs to the police two nights later, prompted by Gaga’s offer of a $500,000 reward.
McBride surrendered the dogs at the LAPD’s Olympic Station, seven miles from West Hollywood, where they were taken.
‘This was a brazen street crime that left a man seriously wounded,’ said George Gascon, Los Angeles County District Attorney.
‘We have alleged very serious charges in this case and have faith that justice will be appropriately served as this case unfolds in court.’
The defendants are expected to be arraigned on Thursday afternoon at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The American Kennel Club lists French bulldogs as the fourth most popular breed in the United States, behind Labradors, golden retrievers and German shepherds. Their small size, however, makes the French bulldog a popular target for thieves.
French bulldogs cost between $1,500 and $3,000 from a reputable breeder – although exceptional animals can fetch up to $10,000.
Gaga’s dogwalker, Ryan Fischer, 30, was shot four times while he was out with her three dogs, Koji, Gustav and Miss Asia.
The thieves then ran away with two of the animals – Koji and Gustav.
Miss Asia escaped from the gang before they could put her in their vehicle, and ran back to Fischer.
Koji and Gustav were found two days later, on
Gaga was in Rome filming House of Gucci at the time of the dognapping.
She did not pay out the reward, due to police suspicions that the woman who dropped the dogs off had acted with the dog-stealing ring.
The singer offered a $500,000 reward to anyone who returned her dogs safely. Gaga is pictured with Koji, Miss Asia and Gustavo
Ryan Fischer, 30, was shot four times while he was out walking Gaga’s three dogs, Koji, Gustav and Miss Asia, before thieves snatched two in February
The woman who found Gaga’s two kidnapped dogs was one of those arrested, TMZ reports
Fischer, who has been described as a family friend, survived the assault.
He has posted images of himself in a hospital bed on his social media.
He also thanked the first responders who saved his life and called for his ‘attempted murderers’ to be brought to justice.
Fischer is expected to make a full recovery after he was punched to the ground and shot in the chest while walking the animals on West Hollywood’s Sierra Bonita Avenue at about 10pm on February 24.
TMZ had also cited sources close to the investigation as saying they believe that the incident may have been the result of a gang initiation but they later said the theft was part of a dog-stealing ring.
In the caption of his first Instagram photo, which showed him hooked up to a breathing tube, Fischer described how Miss Asia ran over to him after evading the thieves who fled with the other pooches.
‘Four days ago, while a car sped away and blood poured from my gun shot wound, an angel trotted over and laid next to me,’ he wrote.
‘My panicked screams calmed as I looked at her, even though it registered that the blood pooling around her tiny body was my own.’
Fischer, who has been described as a family friend, survived the assault. He has posted images of himself in a hospital bed on his social media
Fischer described how he feared he wouldn’t survive the attack, writing: ‘I cradled Asia as best I could, thanked her for all the incredible adventures we’d been on together, apologized that I couldn’t defend her brothers, and then resolved that I would still try to save them… and myself.
‘Hopeful that my calm(ish) and forceful pleas for the urgency of my care as well as the focused descriptions of the dogs would be enough to help me and get enough police and media attention to find the boys, I looked backed at my guardian angel. I smiled at her shaking form, thankful that at least she would be okay.
‘From that point, right as the neighbors poured from their homes and restaurant to us on the sidewalk, life has taken a very sudden and unexpected turn.’