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'Cat' tagger pleads guilty to felony vandalism

An Alhambra graphic designer accused of being a prolific tagger responsible for painting cat figures on freeways and buildings around downtown Los Angeles pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single felony vandalism count, authorities said.

Rick Ordonez, 33, could have faced more than six years in prison and suspension of his driver's license if convicted of all six felony vandalism counts against him.

As part of a plea bargain, Ordonez will serve 90 days in county and be required to complete 300 hours of community service in addition to being placed on three years' probation. The remaining five counts will be dismissed at sentencing July 20.

Ordonez, whose moniker is "Atlas," also must pay restitution to Caltrans for tagging that took place between January and March of this year. A judge will determine the amount when Ordonez is sentenced.

The Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau, which specializes in pursuing high-profile taggers, arrested Ordonez based on tips and information gathered in the community.

Most of the infamous cat paintings were plastered on state and local transit properties, particularly in and around the Pasadena Freeway. According to investigators, Ordonez has associations with a tagging crew and is a cat owner.

According to investigators, Ordonez was responsible for at least $15,000 in damage to Caltrans and Metropolitan Transit Authority property.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (11)

It's a shame, really. I was beginning to like the cats on the 110. Even my girlfriend thought they were cute. Unfortunately, they weren't cute enough to convince her we should move to Highland Park.

-Jason in Monrovia

These taggers are ruining Ca. I was shocked to see many freeway signs tagged on the start of 110 in san pedro. What type of people are living here? These low lifes need the book thrown at them along with the trash throwers

Is there selective enforcement going on here? Did the guys who painted the giant flag without a permit - thus being "taggers" - get this kind of sentence? Do they have pay restitution and serve a sentence? If not, why not? Is is just favoritism if the subject is one that law enforcement and the authorities "like" - such as a giant flag - so they don't penalize the guys? If they don't like cats then do they throw the book at the guy? There should be even handed enforcement of rules here.

This cat graffiti. It made me second guess ending my life. I love the cat graffiti, making graffiti a felony is a overkill move by the government. The only punishment for graffiti should be graffiti clean up. He is not a gang banger who does drive byes and deals crack. He is a working citizen just like any other angeleno. Drop the felony charges.. Graffiti is such a mistaminer offense anyway.

felony or .... feline-y?

He should graffiti his own house with those cat figures. Maybe he can get some business. Most of these graphic designer's are wanna be artists anyways.

These "Teri's" are ruining Ca. I was shocked to see many "Teri's" on the start of 110 freeway in san pedro. What type of people agree with her? This low life needs the book thrown at her along with the trash.

if this artist would of been a well respected artist adored by all it would of been no problem.. Unfortunately he was only respected by a small few.. keith haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other many artist guilty of producing Graffiti at one point.. and now their paintings sell for millions.!! I wish some people would give more credit to artist before they become famous artist.. Unfortunately some people only like art when it's sitting in a gallery and it has a big price tag . and people have given it enough buzz to say that it is now respected art..Artist are hard working people who go out of their ways to bring life and joy to those who view it.. i don't know how it brings these hateful comments .. there must be something else going on in your lives to have you so hateful?? .. Keep ARt AliVE!!!!!!

Atlas is a really good graffiti artist. He is known for placing his pieces, both legal and illegal, in difficult to reach spots. He also started the whole sticker bombing or slap tag trend where artists get stickers made and then plaster them everywhere. I still see classic Atlas or Burning Star (which he along with guitarist Alter put up all over the place) stickers all around LA. I think people misunderstand the philosophy behind graffiti art and how it is a rebellious reclamation of space done by those who feel disenfranchised. It is a way for the average person to stand up and exert their voice in a society that tries to silence the masses and their art. I agree that graffiti should in no way whatsoever be a felony, that is ricockulous (more profane than ridiculous). We have politicians and corporations committing crimes that hurt the poor and working class but yet they go free while a guerrilla artist is persecuted for giving some life to those gray walls and making my commute more enjoyable. And I don't expect you squares to understand the need to produce art for the masses placed in public places. In order to create sometimes we must destroy in the process. Let's focus on getting the gangs and drugs off of the streets and leave the art alone!!!!

I'm thankful that he was sentenced to less time....I was concerned we would clutter up our jails with an artist whose only "weapon" is a can of spray paint...
His work is quite stunning, and it definitely brightened up the drabness of our gray environment....
For those of you who are ignorant of graff....serious graff writers do not write on people's homes, their cars, their driveways....etc...

They chose spots that typically are ugly and many times - their goal is to entertain, raise consciousness, provoke thought, or just provide beautiful visual art to our outdoors....
They put in time, pay for their own materials - and many times - their work is gone before anyone even has the opportunity to even appreciate it.
It truly is the last free enterprise left here in the US...

bogus! most tagging is art that gives us something to look at as we toodle down the freeway... punish the snotnose brats who put up the retarded gang stuff. learn to differentiate!


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