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Belieb it: Paparazzo faces criminal charges in Justin Bieber freeway chase

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Singer Justin Bieber poses for fans while signing autographs at a press event at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 11.

A paparazzo faces reckless driving and other charges in the Justin Bieber 101 freeway chase chaos of early July.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich, issued this statement:

Paul Raef, 30, a self-employed freelance paparazzo, was charged with the following four charges: two counts of Vehicle Code section 40008 (a), for both following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain; one count of reckless driving; and one count of failing to obey the lawful order of a peace officer. If convicted, Defendant Raef could face up to one year in the county jail and fines totaling $3,500.


In determining whether to file charges, the City Attorney’s Office considered, among other things, the Defendant’s disregard for the safety of others on the road and the Defendant’s prior criminal history.


The case represents the first prosecution in the State under AB 2479. In 2010, the California legislature passed AB 2479 (D-Karen Bass), which imposes additional penalties on paparazzi driving dangerously in search of photos or video images for commercial gain. Arraignment is scheduled for August 9 in Department 103 of the Van Nuys Superior Court.

18-year-old Justin Bieber was pulled over by CHP officers near Vineland and Ventura on July 6 while driving his Fisker Karma, very fast, on the 101 Freeway. 

Responding officers observed Bieber being followed by a pack of cars, included Raef's Toyota Rav 4. The Toyota was seen speeding upwards of 80 miles per hour while swerving in and out of lanes, and the shoulder, forcing motorists to take action to avoid collision.

When the "pull over" lights went on, Biebs pulled over. The Toyota did not. 30 minutes later, the singer called 911 to say he was being followed by the rogue Rav 4. Officers responded to a downtown L.A. parking garage and identified the defendant, according the the City Attorney.

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