Previously, Rachel Lee was known as the alleged leader of the Hollywood ring. In the new HBO documentary, The Ringleader: The Case of the Bling Ring, Rachel, now 33, tells her side of the story about the rampage she was involved in that targeted celebrities and their homes.
Unlike other members of the notorious group, Rachel never spoke publicly about her involvement. So, who is Rachel Lee? She sets the record straight with her perspective. From what drove her to rob celebrity homes to her relationship with Nick Prugo, Rachel is spilling the beans.
What did Rachel Lee do?
Rachel was part of the Bling Ring, a group of Los Angeles-area teenagers who went on a rampage stealing cash, luxury goods and more from celebrity homes between October 2008 and August 2009. Celebrity victims include Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green.
Because she remained silent after her arrest, Rachel was called the mastermind of The Bling Ring, which inspired Sofia Coppola’s 2013 film of the same name. I didn’t like this Hollywood version at all, but I could see how much fun it was for the world to watch the story like this. “It was more of a storm for me,” she says in the documentary.
After Rachel was expelled from Calabasas High School for theft, she attended Indian Hills High School, where she met Nick. Nick and Rachel became best friends, and Rachel says that they started calling themselves Bonnie and Claydom. Rachel and Nick started their crime spree by checking cars on the road. Eventually, they took things to the next level by breaking into celebrity homes.
I don’t want this to sound like I’m blaming because it’s important for me to take responsibility, but if we want to be specific, then Nick found this Celebrity Address Aerial Tell Rachel about the moment when her and Nick’s crimes began to develop. The first celebrity house they raided was the house of Paris Hilton. When it was over, I felt so loud and clear. It really wakes you up… I really liked this feeling, Rachel admits.
Others were implicated in his rampage, including Alexis Neiers. As soon as the surveillance of Nick and Rachel breaking into a house was published on TMZ, their house of cards began to crumble. Rachel fled to Las Vegas to stay with her father, but returned to Los Angeles to break in with Lindsay Lohan. Nick soon confessed his role in the crimes. Rachel was arrested in Las Vegas on October 22, 2009.
Did Rachel Lee go to jail?
Yes, Rachel went to prison for her crimes. She accepted a four-year plea deal for breaking into Audrina Patridge’s house. She served 16 months before being released on parole early.
In the documentary, Rachel recalls the moment just before her arrest. She was in Las Vegas when Nick called her after her confession. On the phone, Nick asked about the street where she lived with her father in Las Vegas. Rachel told him where she lived, and so the police found her whereabouts. Nick cheated on me, Rachel says. Officers searched her apartment and found a torn nude photo of Paris in her trash can in the bathroom.
After she was arrested, Rachel’s mother told her to be quiet. “That rebellious side of me is gone,” she says. I became very submissive and did exactly what I was told. Shut up. But it also meant that I couldn’t defend myself.
In prison, Rachel’s beloved grandmother died. Rachel’s father, who had fled to Korea after being accused of burying stolen goods in the desert, visited Rachel in prison after her mother’s death. Rachel remembers that her father blamed her for the fact that her grandmother died alone. He just told me, ‘It can take a long time to forgive him.’And it was like, ‘Ok. But he still came and visited me and still treated me like his daughter, reveals Rachel. Rachel was released from prison on March 28, 2013.
Are Rachel Lee and Nick Prugo still friends?
Looking back on when Nick and I were really friends, our relationship broke up from the first day we met, she explains. For me, he is dangerous. What I am about to say is very extreme, but it is my truth. And to be honest, I feel like I’m one of his victims. I feel like I was the perfect person he could dig his claws into…
Looking back at the bling ring, Rachel believes that she and Nick were the leaders. For a lot of people involved in the bling ring, it was a one-time thing for them, you know? I think it was too repetitive for me and Nick, Rachel admits. So I feel like if anyone was the leader, it was me and him, because I feel like we’ve done it so many times. He and I were equally aggressive and equally passive.
There is a moment in the movie Bling Ring where Nick’s character tells and talks about loving Rachel like a sister. I just remember watching that moment, I knew it was a message from him to me, but I will never let him back into my life no matter what, she says.
Where is Rachel Lee now?
Rachel now works as a bartender in the Los Angeles area. She received her cosmetics license in 2018. In the same year, Rachel spoke to Us Weekly for the first time about her life in prison. “I really feel that prison was a blessing, the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. It made me realize that at the end of the day you can only trust yourself.