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Man guilty of burglary in Kirsten Dunst handbag heist from NYC hotel during 2007 film shoot

NEW YORK (AP) — It was a real-life remake, with a different ending.

A mechanic was convicted Friday of burglary in the theft of Kirsten Dunst's $2,000 designer purse and actor Simon Pegg's cell phone and other items from a chic hotel, a 2007 heist that forced the co-stars to twice play the part of witnesses.

James Jimenez, who said he just tagged along on what he thought was a co-defendant's legitimate errand, was convicted of trespassing after a trial last fall. But that jury deadlocked on the more serious burglary charge, spurring a retrial that brought the actors back to the witness stand this week.

Their roles were simple: They explained that their possessions disappeared from a SoHo Grand Hotel penthouse suite they were using as a lounge during filming for "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People," and that they didn't know the men they later saw ambling around the penthouse floor on surveillance video.

The star witnesses added a dash of Hollywood to the Manhattan trials and gave jurors a behind-the-scenes look at moviemaking.

Dunst, best known for her roles in the "Super-Man" series, and Pegg, whose credits include last year's "Star Trek" movie, described details ranging from the duties of a third assistant director to their takeout dinner from the high-end sushi restaurant Nobu.

A representative for Dunst didn't immediately respond to an e-mail inquiry after the verdict. Pegg's spokeswoman declined to comment.

Jimenez, 36, faces up to 15 years in prison at his sentencing, set for June 23. He still maintains his innocence and plans to appeal, said his lawyer, Robert Parker.

After filming overnight elsewhere in the hotel on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9, 2007, the actors returned to the suite to prepare to go home around 4 a.m. They soon realized Dunst's Balenciaga handbag was gone — and with it her wallet, vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses and $2,000 in cash — as well as Pegg's phone, iPod and camera with 300 pictures he'd taken, according to their testimony.

The actors alerted hotel security staffers and police and did some sleuthing themselves: "We even went outside to look for our bags, like maybe it was dumped in a Dumpster," Dunst testified Tuesday.

Jimenez was captured on a security video carrying a shopping bag that prosecutors believe held the actors' possessions.

He testified that he just followed co-defendant Jarrod Beinerman, thinking Beinerman had permission for what they were doing. Beinerman pleaded guilty in 2008 to attempted burglary and is serving 4 1/2 years in prison.

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