Paparazzo charged with crime in Justin Bieber chase
LOS ANGELES, July 26 — A freelance paparazzo was charged yesterday with driving recklessly after speeding through a Los Angeles highway to photograph pop star Justin Bieber earlier this month, the first use of a new anti-paparazzi law.
Celebrity photographer Paul Raef is being charged under a 2010 California law that penalises paparazzi for dangerous driving when taking photos for commercial gain.
Raef was charged with two counts of violating the new law, as well as single counts of reckless driving and failing to obey police orders, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
He could face up to a year in prison and US$3,500 (RM11,100) in fines if convicted of the charges, and will be arraigned in August 2012.
The charges stem from a July 6 2012 incident in which Bieber, 18, was pulled over and cited by the police for driving 80 miles per hour (130 km per hour) in a 65 mph zone in his Fisker Karma sports car on Los Angeles’ 101 Hollywood highway.
The singer, whom police described as polite and cooperative at the time, told officers he was being chased by paparazzi, and police said they saw a second car pursuing Bieber’s automobile that sped away without being stopped.
Thirty minutes after the incident, Bieber called police to report that he was being followed again by the same paparazzo, and officers found Raef and other photographers gathered in downtown Los Angeles.
Bieber’s speedy driving caught the attention of a Los Angeles city councilman, Dennis Zine, who happened to be on that portion of the highway at the same time and called 911. Zine told reporters earlier this month that Bieber was “driving in a careless, reckless fashion.” — Reuters