Dognapping suspects unaware of connection to Lady Gaga, authorities say

Five people are charged in the case — three men and two alleged accomplices — and all have pleaded not guilty
Dognapping suspects unaware of connection to Lady Gaga, authorities say
Two of Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs were stolen in February (Saul Loeb/AP)

The men who dognapped Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs in February had no idea of their connection to the singer, authorities have said.

The robbery would prompt headlines around the world — and motivate the owners of French bulldogs to be wary during walks — with few clues made public about the case or the circumstances surrounding the dogs’ disappearance.

The felony complaint, filed by prosecutors on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, gives some new details about the attack and what preceded it.

Five people are charged in the case — three men and two alleged accomplices — and all have pleaded not guilty.

The Lady Gaga connection was a coincidence, authorities have said. The motive was the value of the French bulldogs, a breed that can run into the thousands of dollars, and detectives do not believe the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the pop star.

The three men — James Jackson, 18, Jaylin White, 19, and Lafayette Whaley, 27 — were arrested last week on suspicion of attempted murder and robbery.

Mr Jackson is also accused of shooting Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer.

The trio — purported gang members nicknamed Infant Dice, Lil Gudda and LFace, respectively — are due back in court on May 11.

The felony complaint states Mr Whaley drove Mr Jackson and Mr White around Hollywood, the city of West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley on February 24 “looking for French bulldogs”. They found Mr Fischer and his three charges in Hollywood.

The trio tailed Mr Fischer as he led the dogs — named Asia, Koji and Gustav — along the famed Sunset Boulevard, LA prosecutors wrote.

They turned off the white sedan’s lights and followed him down a secluded side street.

Mr Jackson and Mr White jumped out and attacked Mr Fischer, stealing Koji and Gustav in a violent struggle captured on the doorbell camera of a nearby home.

They hit and choked Mr Fischer, prosecutors alleged, and Mr Jackson pulled out a semiautomatic gun and fired, striking Mr Fischer once before they fled.

Over the next two days, Mr White’s father, Harold White, and Jennifer McBride, who was in a relationship with the elder White, became involved in the theft, prosecutors wrote.

They allegedly helped the younger White avoid arrest, and Ms McBride returned the dogs to police on February 26.

She claimed she had found the animals tied to a pole, police said at the time, and asked about Lady Gaga’s offer of a $500,000 reward if the dogs were returned “no questions asked”. The singer was in Rome at the time filming a movie.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Wilson presides over the arraignment of several people arrested in connection with the theft of Lady Gaga’s dog and shooting of her dog walker (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Police initially said Ms McBride appeared to be “uninvolved and unassociated” with the crime. She is charged with receiving stolen property valued above 950 dollars, in addition to a count of being an accessory after the fact.

Jaylin White remains held on more than $1m bond, jail records show.

Mr Jackson is held on just over $3m bond, and Mr Whaley’s bond is $1.1m.

The elder White, who is an alleged gang member nicknamed Lil Porky, was released from jail on Saturday, and Ms McBride was freed on Monday pending their next court appearance.

Ms McBride’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear if the others had lawyers who could speak on their behalf.

Lady Gaga and Mr Fischer have not addressed the arrests publicly. Mr Fischer is recovering from a gunshot wound and has called the violence a “very close call with death” in social media posts.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox