VAN NUYS (CNS) – A freelance paparazzo accused of chasing pop star Justin Bieber on the Hollywood (101) Freeway in the San Fernando Valley last month is scheduled to appear in a Van Nuys courtroom today to plead to four misdemeanors.
Los Angeles city prosecutors say Paul Raef was the first paparazzo charged under a 2010 state law that penalizes photographers for driving dangerously in an attempt to take photos “for commercial gain.” He was charged July 25 with two counts of violating that statute, along with single counts of reckless driving and failing to obey the order of a peace officer.
Bieber received a speeding ticket at the end of the July 6 chase, which raised the ire of City Councilman Dennis Zine, who witnessed the chase and called 911 to report seeing Bieber’s sports car speeding along the freeway. Zine said Bieber was weaving in and out of freeway lanes in his customized chrome Fisker Karma while being followed at high speeds by other vehicles.
According to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the pack included Raef’s Toyota Rav 4, which was seen being driven in excess of 80 mph, weaving across lanes and even on the freeway shoulder. Bieber pulled over when California Highway Patrol officers caught the group, but Raef sped off, according to prosecutors.
About 30 minutes later, Bieber called 911 and reported that he was being followed again by the Toyota, according to the City Attorney‘s Office. Officers responded and found the Toyota and other paparazzi gathered at a downtown Los Angeles parking garage.
Raef could face up to a year in jail and $3,500 in fines if convicted, according to the City Attorney’s Office.