Paul Raef, the 30-year-old paparazzo who chased singer Justin Bieber on July 6 as the alleged ringleader of the wild L.A. freeway chase that left the singer with a speeding ticket, has been hit with multiple criminal charges -- according to the L.A. City Attorney.
The episode marks the first time a paparazzo is charged under a new California law that makes it a crime "to create a dangerous situation while following a celebrity for profit.” 30-year-old Raef, an attorney who also works as a freelance paparazzo, was hit with 2 counts of following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving “with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain.” The paparazzo was also charged with 1 count of reckless driving, and an additional count of “failing to obey the lawful order of a peace officer.”
The July 6 chase caused Bieber to be cited for driving over 80 mph in his chrome Fisker Karma, before telling police he was just trying to escape a gang of paparazzi who had been “relentlessly pursuing him for miles.” Authorities say Raef, who was driving a Toyota Rav at a reported speed which exceeded 80 mph “across all lines and (at times) on the shoulder,” was leading the pack of photographers that chased Bieber and forced other drivers to "break" and "swerve" to avoid colliding.
Though Bieber obliged when authorities tried to pull him and Raef over, the paparazzo allegedly fled the scene (which probably didn't help his case with the authorities). The singer's compliant behavior as well as the paparazzo's rogue reaction could set a precedent for similar cases in California where stars will now be able to file criminal charges against the very same people that help making them famous -- all while milking the legal incidents for additional free publicity.