Daughter pleads guilty in Northbrook family's toy theft spree

CHICAGO (STMW) - When workers tried to stop her parents from fleeing an Oklahoma Barnes & Noble after an alarm began to wail, Julia Bogdanov helped them get away, prosecutors said.

When a detective for the bookstore — this time in Maryland — fingered Branko and Lela Bogdanov as thieves and tried to stop them from absconding with as many as 10 mini-American Girl dolls possibly stuffed under Lela’s skirt, Julia ran interference and told the detective her mother was a cancer patient.

Julia Bogdanov joined her parents as they allegedly targeted toy stores all across America and fetched $4.2 million selling the stolen goods on eBay, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. But Thursday, Julia Bogdanov was joined only by her attorney as she pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood to conspiring with her parents to commit the crime spree.

She faces as many as five years in prison at her sentencing hearing, which is set for March 3. Her ultimate sentence is more likely to fall between 18 and 24 months. Branko and Lela Bogdanov are set to plead guilty Friday.

The three Bogdanovs were arrested in March 2014 by the U.S. Secret Service, which teamed up with investigators from Toys “R” Us, eBay and Barnes & Noble to nab the family. Assistant U.S. Attorney Renato Mariotti told the judge authorities found $74,698 in merchandise in the family’s tony Northbrook home.

Even as she pleaded guilty, Julia Bogdanov disputed whether some of those items were stolen, including a Louis Vuitton belt, a camera and 50 bags of Starbucks coffee.

She also told the judge she continues to work in retail, though she declined to say where after glancing back at reporters in the courtroom gallery.

None of the ethnic Romani immigrants from the former Yugoslavia was a stranger to law enforcement when they were arrested last year. Their latest alleged spree saw them bounce through Louisiana, Tennessee, Maryland, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas. Authorities accused them of stuffing Legos, Furbys, and baby items into a blue lining under Lela Bogdanov’s black skirt.

Investigators watched in New Orleans as the Bogdanovs left a Toys “R” Us in New Orleans. They said a gust of wind blew up her dress and they could see a box in the lining underneath.

During the alleged theft of 10 mini-American Girl dolls from the Barnes & Noble in Pikesville, Maryland, they were nearly caught but escaped after Branko Bogdanov choked a store detective, records show.

The case against the family was built around the cooperation of an informant who told prosecutors he acted as the Bogdanovs’ fence and turned over stolen goods he says he bought from them.

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