A Hercules woman accused of stealing a vase from the vacant Novato mansion of Pavel Lazarenko -- the former Ukrainian prime minister convicted of money laundering -- pleaded guilty to burglary.
Lisa Louise Gutierrez, 44, of Hercules admitted to a felony commercial burglary charge Wednesday in a deal with prosecutors. Gutierrez has no criminal record and the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor if she completes a year of probation, said her public defender, Deborah Lewis.
The vase has been returned and Gutierrez will make restitution, Lewis said.
Gutierrez entered the plea before Judge Kelly Simmons in Marin Superior Court. Charges were dismissed against a second defendant, Sabrina Noel Cross, 20, of San Pablo.
"It was the right resolution," said Cross' lawyer, Steven Wasserman. "There wasn't proof beyond a reasonable doubt that she had anything to do with any burglary at the mansion."
Gutierrez and Cross were arrested July 30 on suspicion of breaking into Lazarenko's nine-bedroom estate at 100 Obertz Lane. The mansion has been vacant because Lazarenko -- who was prime minister of Ukraine in 1996 and 1997 before fleeing to the United States amid a corruption investigation -- has been serving a federal prison sentence for using U.S. banks to launder ill-gotten riches from his Ukraine tenure.
The vase theft occurred two months after a $30,000 Picasso lithograph was stolen from the mansion after a group of teens broke into the 11-acre property and held a party there, police said. The 1957 lithograph was recovered by police June 10 after someone left it leaning against a fence on Burning Tree Drive.
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