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Justin Bieber chase: Paparazzo allegedly followed singer twice

July 26, 2012 |  5:00 am

The paparazzo charged after allegedly chasing Justin Bieber on the 101 Freeway earlier this month followed the 18-year-old again after the pop star was pulled over and ticketed, authorities said.

L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich announced Wednesday that Paul Raef, 30, faces misdemeanor charges in connection with the July 6 incident: reckless driving, failing to obey a peace officer, and two counts of following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain.

In announcing the charges, Trutanich revealed in a statement that the freelance photographer was one of several vehicles that criss-crossed the freeway at speeds greater than 80 miles per hour while pursuing Bieber, prompting several 911 calls.

When California Highway Patrol officers activated their lights for a traffic stop, Bieber pulled over, but a Toyota Rav 4 — later determined to be Raef’s — was among the vehicles that fled the scene.

About 30 minutes after Bieber was ticketed, the statement said, he called 911 and said he was again being followed by a Toyota involved in the previous pursuit. CHP officers went to a parking garage in downtown L.A., where thay found a vehicle with the same license plate as the Rav 4 that allegedly chased Bieber.

Authorities used that information to identify Raef as the driver.

The photographer did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Court records show Raef has a handful of offenses in Orange and San Bernardino counties that include speeding and reckless driving. He also pleaded guilty in 2007 to receiving stolen property, a felony, and being in possession of burglary tools, and was sentenced to two years in prison.

In a statement Wednesday, Trutanich said Raef’s “disregard for the safety of others on the road” and criminal background were among the factors considered when deciding to file charges.

The case marks the first time prosecutors have filed charges under the state's harsher anti-paparazzi law enacted in 2010.

AB 2479 imposed stiffer penalties — including possible jail time — for photographers who drive recklessly or block sidewalks in pursuit of celebrities and create a sense of “false imprisonment.” Trutanich helped craft the law, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, another paparazzi target.


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-- Kate Mather
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