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Paparazzo involved in Bieber chase charged

Paparazzo involved in Bieber chase charged

POSTED: Saturday, July 28, 2012 - 4:30pm

UPDATED: Saturday, July 28, 2012 - 4:34pm

A freelance paparazzo who was involved in a high-speed chase of Justin Bieber on a Southern California freeway on July 6 has been hit with four criminal charges by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.

According to a statement from the City Attorney's Office issued on Wednesday, the pap in question is freelancer Paul Raef. He has been charged with following a vehicle too closely and driving recklessly with the purpose of getting potentially profitable photos; failing to follow the orders of a peace officer; and another separate count of reckless driving.

Raef, 30, was one of a pack of six drivers who were pursuing 18-year-old pop star Justin Bieber at speeds "well in excess of 80 mph" on July 6, the statement says.

The chase was an accident waiting to happen, Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine told CNN. Zine said he observed Bieber flying past him in his Fisker Karma hybrid at 100 mph that morning.

"He was coming up behind me, making abrupt lane changes, not giving signals, cutting off cars," said Zine, who is also a reserve police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. The pack of cars chasing Bieber was following the singer "close by, at a rapid speed, all of them."

According to the statement from the City Attorney's Office, Bieber complied with police and pulled over when officers caught up with him and his pursuer, but Raef, who was driving a Toyota Rav 4, didn't stop and sped off instead. About 30 minutes later, after Bieber had been cited for speeding and released, the teen star called 911 to report that the Toyota was following him again.

Police found Raef along with other paparazzi in a downtown L.A. parking garage and confirmed that he was the driver of the Toyota that had skirted away earlier, and referred Raef's case to the City Attorney's Office for prosecution.

This is the first time someone has been prosecuted under a California law that hands down additional penalties to paparazzi who drive recklessly in order to obtain photographs or video of celebrities for commercial gain. That legislation was passed in 2010.

If Raef is convicted, he could face up to a year in county jail and $3,500 in fines. His arraignment is scheduled for August 9.

Bieber, meanwhile, is set to appear in court for his speeding citation in September. 

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