In 2021 Lady Gaga was in Rome filming House of Gucci when her three French Bulldogs were dognapped — well, two of the three were taken. Miss Asia said “f— this” and ran away — and her dog walker Ryan Fischer was shot and in critical condition. Gaga put up a controversial “no questions asked” reward of $500k for the safe return of Koji and Gustave (that the LAPD was not happy about). Asia was recovered and the other Frenchies were returned. The woman who returned them, Jennifer McBride, ended up being arrested along with four other assailants. Not one to let a pesky little arrest get in the way of her payday, McBride sued Gaga to get the reward money. This week a judge ruled that no, Gaga does not have to pay McBride $500k for returning the dogs that she aided in stealing in the first place:
The case: Lady Gaga does not have to pay a $500,000 (£410,000) reward to a woman who returned her dogs after they were stolen in 2021, a US judge has ruled. Jennifer McBride previously sued the star for the “no questions asked” reward, plus $1.5m (£1.2m) in damages. But the judge said Ms McBride couldn’t claim the money because her role in returning the star’s dogs had led to a conviction of receiving stolen goods. She argues she was just making sure the two bulldogs were returned safely. Ms McBride’s lawyer said the singer and actress had committed a breach of contract and fraud by not paying up following their return. But in a ruling this week, Judge Holly J Fujie said Ms McBride was “not entitled to thereafter benefit from their wrongdoing by seeking to enforce the contract”.
The crime: In February 2021, Ryan Fischer was walking Lady Gaga’s three French bulldogs in Hollywood when he was shot in the chest in what the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office called “a cold-hearted violent act”. He survived, but had to have part of his lung removed. Last December, James Howard Jackson was sentenced to 21 years in prison for attempted murder. Jackson and his accomplices took two of the dogs, Koji and Gustave, following the shooting. A third, Miss Asia, ran away and was later found by police. The two stolen dogs were returned unharmed by Ms McBride two days later after Gaga offered the reward.
The charge: Ms McBride was arrested along with four others in April 2021, and was charged with being an accessory to attempted murder. In December, she struck a plea deal to have that charge dropped, and pleaded no contest to receiving stolen property, for which she was sentenced to two years probation. She denied having been involved in the theft, saying she only took possession of Lady Gaga’s pets “for the specific purpose of ensuring their protection and safely returning them”. That’s something the Grammy and Oscar-winner’s lawyers argued “makes no sense”. The judge has now upheld a previous ruling, saying Ms McBride cannot claim the reward because she “has unclean hands that prevent her from profiting from her actions”.
[From BBC News]
“But your honor… I still returned the dogs. Give me my reward!” Ok, even if McBride maintains privately that she had nothing to do with the dognapping, and even if that is the truth (unlikely) then she only took the plea deal to get out of the accessory to murder charge. Even with all that, in the eyes of the law McBride pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property. That is what this judge was legally bound to refer to when rendering a decision. I don’t think McBride thought this one through (nor do I think her lawyer did a good job advising her). That being said, it was never a good idea for Gaga to offer a “no questions asked” reward. Emotionally I understand how she made the decision and she is extra. Still, I expect someone of Gaga’s net worth to have an army of people on retainer to help her think things through.
But what’s important here is that Ryan Fischer survived (although holy crap I didn’t know he had to have part of a lung removed), all of the dogs were safely returned, and those involved in the crime have been held accountable. And people the world over learned that Miss Asia don’t play.
Photos via Instagram and credit: INFphoto.com and TS, PacificCoastNews/Avalon
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