Belfast Telegraph

Photographer on Bieber chase charge

A member of the paparazzi faces criminal charges in connection with a high-speed chase of Justin Bieber earlier this month, marking the first use of a California state law designed to clamp down on photographers' reckless pursuit of celebrities.

Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed four charges against Paul Raef, 30, including reckless driving with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain, reckless driving, failure to obey a peace officer and following another vehicle too closely.

Raef was not immediately available for comment. If convicted, he faces up to one year in county jail and 3,500 US dollars (£2,255) in fines.

The charges stem from an incident on July 6 when Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine, a former police officer, and three other motorists called police to report a high-speed chase along the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley.

Prosecutors said responding officers saw a pack of six vehicles pursuing a silver Fisker car, which turned out to be driven by Justin.

A Toyota SUV, owned by Raef, was seen driving at speeds well over 80mph across all lanes and on the shoulder, as well as forcing its way into lanes when it had no room to merge safely.

Motorists were forced to brake and swerve to avoid colliding with Raef's vehicle and the others, prosecutors said.

The young pop star pulled over when officers signalled him to, but Raef did not stop. Justin was cited for speeding and released.

Prosecutors said that, about 30 minutes later, the singer called police and said he was again being followed by the same Toyota.

California Highway Patrol officers arrived at a Los Angeles parking garage, where other paparazzi had congregated, and found the Toyota with the same licence plate as the one that had chased the singer. Officers identified Raef as the driver. He is scheduled to be arraigned on August 9.

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