Paparazzo Paul Raef, who has allegedly been involved in a high speed chase with teen pop sensation Justin Bieber is now facing criminal charges, marking the first use of a state law which was designed to clamp down on photographers or paparazzis’ reckless pursuit of celebrities.
On Wednesday, The City Attorney’s office has filed four charges against 30-year-old paparazzo Paul Raef, which included reckless driving with the intent to capture photos of Justin Bieber for commercial gain, as well as failure to obey a peace office and following another vehicle too closely.
If convicted, Paul Raef will face up to one year in county jail, as well as a total of $3,500 in fines. The paparazzo could not be immediately reached for comments.
Paul Raef’s charges stem from a July 6 incident, where Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine, who is a former police officer, along with three other motorists made an emergency call to 911 to report a high speed chase happening along the 101 Freeway in San Fernando Valley.
Prosecutors said that the responding officers saw a pack of sex vehicles pursuing a silver fisker car, which turned out to be driven by pop superstar Justin Bieber. A Toyota SUV, which was owned by Paul Raef, was seen driving at a speed well over 80 miles an hour across all lanes of the freeway, as well as forcing its way into lanes when it had no room to safely merge into the traffic.
Other motorists were forced to swerve and brake in order to avoid colliding with Paul Raef as well as Justin Bieber’s vehicles, prosecutors said.
Justin Bieber pulled over when officers signaled him to, but Paul Raef did not stop.
Justin Bieber was then cited for speeding and was released.
Prosecutors revealed that around 30 minutes later, Justin Bieber called 911 and reported that he was being followed once more by the same Toyota.
Some officers from the California Highway Patrol then arrived at a parking garage in downtown Los Angeles, where other paparazzi had congregated, and found the same Toyota which had the license plate of the car which chased Justin Bieber.
Officers then identified paparazzo Paul Raef as the driver of the Toyota. He is now schedled to be arraigned on August 9.
Paparazzi pursuit of celebrities, just like what happened between Justin Bieber and Paul Raef has long been identified as a risk in Los Angeles.
This is not the first time for Justin Bieber to be involved with paparazzo trouble, as it was previously reported that the young singer allegedly fought with a papparazzo who was taking photos of him and former Disney star girlfriend, Selena Gomez.