LA man & real estate agent stole items worth at least $5m from celebs
How two middle class Beverly Hills friends became master burglars and stole more than 2,500 items – including hundreds of designer handbags and jewels – from the rich and famous including Adam Lambert and Usher
- Jason Yaselli, 35, and Benjamin Ackerman, 36, targeted celebrity homes for at least two years
- The pair would carefully search online for luxury properties to see which would land them with the largest haul
- LAPD detectives discovered more than 2,500 stolen items worth at least $5million
- Authorities described the break-ins as ‘surgical’ with some of the victims left confused by their missing belongings as there were no signs of a break in
- One Beverly Hills home that was targeted by the two burglars had 150 luxury items stolen – totaling around $2.5million
- They’re charged with 14 counts of burglary, 32 counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering
A Los Angeles real estate agent and his ‘slick’ accomplice are set to go on trial for masterminding a lucrative burglary ring which saw them steal more than $5million worth of items from the rich and famous.
Jason Yaselli, 35, and Benjamin Ackerman, 36, worked together to target celebrities’ homes across Hollywood, California, often breaking into homes in the same neighborhood.
Often victims of the clandestine and calculated burglaries did not realize that there had been a break-in – with some noticing months later that their high-ticket valuables were gone.
Detectives discovered more than 2,500 stolen items in Ackerman’s home and a storage unit he owned.
It is one of the largest recoveries of stolen items in LAPD history, with the discovery of those behind the ‘bling ring’ bringing an end to high-end items vanishing in the city.
Ackerman was encouraged to steal from at least 13 homes by Yaselli, with the two working together to cover up the ‘surgical’ crimes.
Prosecutors say that at least $5.5 million in valuables was taken from the homes between December 2016 to July 2018.
One Beverly Hills home that was targeted by the two burglars had 150 luxury items stolen – totaling around $2.5 million.
Real estate agent Jason Yaselli, right, and ‘slick’ Benjamin Ackerman are both accused of masterminding the multi-milion dollar bling ring which saw the duo target celebrity homes and pilfer luxury items before sending them on
Ackerman targeted Adam Lambert’s luxury three-bedroom, 3,049-square-foot home nestled above the Sunset Strip after it was put on the market for $3.35 million. He saw the property on an online listing, and went back on more than one occasion to pocket luxury goods
Detectives discovered more than 2,500 stolen items in Ackerman’s home and a storage unit he owned. Messages between Ackerman and Yaselli showed the pair discussing stealing from celebrities Usher and Adam Lambert
The LAPD released thousands of images in 2019 during a press conference after Ackerman was initially arrested in connection with the incidents. Both he and Yaselli were charged with multiple counts of burglary and theft in August 2019
LAPD detectives say that no one stopped the ‘slick’ burglar because he showed up at properties ‘dressed to the nines’ and would often just walk in the front door.
Singers Usher and Adam Lambert, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills stars Paul and Dorit Kemsley were just a few of the stars who were targeted in the callous attacks.
Paradigm Talent Agency boss Michael Gores, former Vanity Fair editor Punch Hutton and Logitechs entertainment and talents boss Linna Stalberg were also left out of pocket by the devious thieves.
Both Ackerman and Yaselli are accused of stealing more than $500,000 through fraud and embezzlement, and are set to face trial at an LA court in September after pleading not guilty.
They were charged with 14 counts of burglary, 32 counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering on 23 August 2019.
Yaselli and Ackerman could be sentenced to up to 31 years imprisonment if convicted of the charges.
Ackerman allegedly stole expensive artwork, designer clothing, bags and luxury jewelry and watches from the celebrities homes.
Twelve LAPD officers raided his home in September 2018, and discovered a 15-camera indoor-outdoor surveillance system.
A helicopter and tactical team were also called in to arrest one of the masterminds behind the operation.
Designer clothing was organized by brand: Balenciaga, Chanel, Fendi, Givenchy, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, as handbags worth $100,000 were also found.
Goyard wallets, Cartier, Patek, Phillipe and Rolex watches were also recovered as well as diamond encrusted Gucci hair clips and hundreds of bottles of expensive wine.
Authorities claim that Ackerman was ‘sophisticated’ and would tamper with surveillance cameras.
On some occasions he would just rip it out of the wall, while on others the footage would go blank until several hours after the burglary occurred.
Both Yaselli and Ackerman would reportedly trawl through online real estate listings to hone in on their targets.
Usher and his then wife Grace Migel found themselves targeted by the due in 2018, after they put up their $4.2million property near to the luxury Chateau Marmont on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The listing emphasized the ‘striking artwork’ and ‘eye-catching décor,’ and also had several pictures of the inside of the property with plenty of belongings on show
Ackerman targeted properties by looking at lavish properties for sale online. Some would even have a 3D tour feature which would allow him to take his time to identify specific items that he wanted to try to walk away with
Dorit and Paul Kemsley were one of the hardest hit by the burglary, and had items worth at least $2.5million stolen from their Beverly Hills mansion while they were away
Hundreds of designer bags were discovered by officers after the raid on Ackmans’ property close to where one of the victims lived. He had organized the luxury handbags by their designers, which included Balenciaga, Chanel and Louis Vuitton
Glittering earrings were amongst the thousands of pieces of jewelry that were recovered from the heists, which police say were conducted in a ‘slick and surgical’ manner
Ackerman would also pose as a Realter during recon missions during open houses, in an attempt to identify which properties would get them the largest haul.
In once instance Ackerman even targeted a long-time family friend of his, making off with a family heirloom which has never been recovered.
It is unclear how the pair met, but messages between them show that they were in regular contact about how to acquire more wealth.
After stealing the items they would sell them on to pawnshops and second hand luxury retailers – with Ackerman then depositing the proceeds into his account.
He would then transfer them to Yaselli, who would use the money to pay the bills Ackerman had racked up on his partners credit cards.
Yaselli would then receive American Airlines frequent-flyer miles on top of Amex travel reward points.
Despite never stepping foot into a single property, Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Strodel said that Yaselli is ‘morally and legally just as responsible’ for the crimes.
DailyMail.com takes a look at some of the evidence that a jury is set to hear about how the duo allegedly broke into the homes and stole millions of dollars’ worth of property.
USHER AND EX-WIFE GRACE MIGEL
The two burglars took a Louis Vuitton bag which was not recovered by the LAPD
20 MARCH 2018
Usher and his then wife Grace Migel found themselves targeted by the due in 2018, after they put up their $4.2million property near to the luxury Chateau Marmont on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.
The listing emphasized the ‘striking artwork’ and ‘eye-catching décor,’ and also had several pictures of the inside of the property with plenty of belongings on show.
Ackerman is accused of stealing an NBA championship ring from the Cleveland Cavalier’s Finals victory in 2016 that was gifted to the rapper by LeBron James.
He also pocketed a $220,000 watch, a necklace worth $200,000, expensive wine, $20,000 in cash, and a Louis Vuitton bag.
The singer was out of pocket around $800,000 after the thieves targeted his plush property.
Of everything that was stolen only a gold necklace imprinted with the singer’s name and another featuring an arrowhead gem were recovered by cops.
But despite deliberately targeting lavish properties, Ackerman didn’t realize he was robbing Ushers home when he was inside.
He texted Yashelli ‘Omg it was Usher!!!!! I wonder if there’s a song that has both Usher and Adam Lambert’ along with smiley emojis.
Officers did recover a gold necklace imprinted with the singer’s name and another featuring an arrowhead gem which were stolen from the singer
Adam Lambert was gifted a picture from Freddie Mercury which was inscribed to him
30 NOVEMBER AND 2 DECEMBER 2017
Singer Adam Lambert was trying to offload his $4million property in the Hollywood Hills when he was on tour with Queen.
He had a photo of Freddie Mercury stolen from his wall, which was inscribed with ‘To Adam,’ along with a number of other items.
When police eventually recovered it in 2018, it was hanging in Ackerman’s laundry room.
It is thought that Ackerman had changed the inscription himself, painting over the words to say ‘to Ben.’
RABBI KAREN FOX AND MICHAEL ROSEN
7 JULY TO AUGUST 14 2017
The menorah-shaped brooch was recovered by police after being stolen by Ackerman
Rabbi Fox and her husband Michael Rosen had trusted Ackerman to move their mail to their backyard as he was the son of a close family friend.
Fox’s grandmother sold pieces of a family heirloom to feed her family, buy medicine and escape Germany for the US during World War II.
The rabbi kept the remains of the gold necklace with other heirlooms in a safe in her bedroom, as well as several other pieces of jewelry.
Ackerman took a menorah-shaped brooch and a standing bass that the couple’s son owned, which was recovered by police.
She and her husband flew to New York to meet their new-born grandchild in 2017, asking Ackerman to take care of the property.
He texted Yaselli to brag that the couple had ‘left their safe unlocked’, before adding ‘I’m inside, going through with it’.
Ackerman had previously attended Shabbatt and Passover dinners with his family at the property, so was familiar with the layout.
He took his time going through their property because he knew when they would be back, telling Yaselli ‘I’m sure there’s cash in here too’.
The heirloom necklace was never recovered, and Fox told a court in March that it had represented ‘our family’s survival story, a Jewish survival story’.
She added that she had planned to pass the necklace down through the generations, adding that her and her husband had sold their home of 35 years after the burglary.
They said it was because they didn’t feel safe in their own home knowing that Ackerman lived only a few blocks away.
He also took a standing bass from the couple, who had been longstanding family friends with his parents and asked him to move their mail
4 DECEMBER 2016
Chanel bags, pictured, were stolen from Stalbergs home after it went on the market
Court documents seen by Bloomberg, claim that Ackerman decided to target Stalberg’s cottage after it went on the market for $1.7million.
He text Yasselli ‘I’ve got Sunday set up for at least 5k’, before breaking into the marketing executives home.
She collected expensive jewelry and designer handbags – including Chanel, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton.
Ackerman posed as a realter while attending an open house at the huge property, which was again listed online showing off the various luxuries.
Stalberg locked away her valuables in a safe before the open house and put her handbags into their protective coverings and stashed them in a closet.
She only noticed that they were missing after pulling out a ladder to retrieve her bags the evening after the open house.
He stole the bags from the high shelf, before leaving through her backyard. Ackerman texted Yaselli ‘Chanel, Easy out via yard’ shortly before the theft.
Ackerman took several purses, but only four Chanel purses worth around $20,000 to $50,000 were recovered by the LAPD.
PUNCH HUTTON AND JOHN HODGES
3 DECEMBER 2017
Detailed notes made by Hutton show exactly how Ackerman managed to break into the property
Former Vanity Fair Editor Punch Hutton and her film-producer husband John Hodges were also targeted by the thieving pair.
The couple locked up their home, which is located close to Lambert and Usher’s properties near Chateau Marmont, and left for an open house event.
An online listing included dozens of photos and a 3D tour of their home which showed off their personal possessions.
Ackerman, after spotting the listing online, jumped over their backyard fence and hoisted himself onto the roof.
He then pushed open a window in the master bedroom, which he had unlocked earlier during an open house.
After successfully stealing a Louis Vuitton tote and a blue Goyard tote, along with a jewelry box, he took a picture and sent it to Yaselli saying ‘Well just when you thought the day was done ;)’
He admitted ‘watching the house’ for a while, and Yaselli responded ‘That’s you right now!!’.
Hutton and Hodges returned home to discover that her jewelry, bags and her husbands Rolexes were missing.
In total the couple had around $215,000 worth of valuable stolen, and Hutton noticed that a window was open with a smudge beneath it.
She then spotted fingerprints, a handprint, and a shoe print, which police later matched to Ackerman’s – they also recovered one of the bags and some of the less valuable jewelry.
DORIT AND PAUL KEMSLEY
28 JUNE 2018
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills stars Dorit and Paul Kemsley were robbed while they were away from the $12.75million mansion.
Ackerman is accused of stealing artwork, jewelry, a large and expensive wine collection, wallets and handbags worth more than $2.5million.
It was the largest haul the ‘surgical and slick’ burglar was able to pocket in just a single property that he targeted.
Officers recovered more than 150 items, including 43 purses and handbags, 30 bracelets, 25 necklaces, and a Social Security card.
It is not clear how Ackerman knew the couple were away from the property, but he previously admitted ‘watching’ other properties before he targeted them in the sting.
They also found framed photos, of Fay Dunaway, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Clint Eastwood by Terry O’Neill.
Framed photos, of Fay Dunaway, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Clint Eastwood by Terry O’Neill were all stolen from the property in Beverly Hills
MICHAEL AND REBECCA GORES
21 JULY 2018
Artwork from the Gores’ property was discovered in Ackerman’s home after police raided the two-story building in September 2018.
Ackerman reportedly stole a print by renowned LA artist Ed Ruscha, Jet Baby, from Michael Gores who leads Paradigm Talent Agency who represent Stephen King, Zoe Kravitz and Sydney Sweeney.
The total value of items stolen from their home after an open house was around $200,000 and it was again advertised online.
It is thought that Ackerman stole an AirPods case decorated with the Paradigm logo on it as a trophy, but they have never been recovered.
After raiding the Gores’ property Ackerman sparked the interest of an auctioneer, after asking the value of another stolen print that belonged to the couple by street artist Retna.
The auctioneer contacted the couple, alerting them to a potential suspect, who passed the information on to the LAPD which lead to Ackerman’s arrest.
Ackerman reportedly stole a print by renowned LA artist Ed Ruscha, Jet Baby, from the property. It was not recovered by Police
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