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OTRC: Justin Bieber reckless driving case: paparazzo charged

Justin Bieber talks to OnTheRedCarpet.com at the 2012 Billboard Awards on May 20, 2012.

Paparazzo Paul Raef was charged in the Justin Bieber reckless driving case, which led to the pop star getting pulled over by cops.

Raef, a 30-year-old self-employed freelance paparazzo was charged with following a vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain and "failing to obey the lawful order of peace officer," according to a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com from the LA City Attorney's Office.

He could face up to one year in the county jail and fines up to $3,500. The City Attorney's Office decided to file charges against Raef based on his disregard for the safety of others and his prior criminal history. His arraignment is scheduled for August 6.

The case marks the first implementation of 2010 legislature which imposes additional penalties on paparazzi driving dangerously to obtain photos or videos for commercial gain.

The 18-year-old pop star was driving his custom chrome Fisker Karma sports sedan on a highway on July 6. Bieber was stopped and cited for driving in excess of 65 mph, a California Highway Patrol Officer told The Associated Press, adding that the singer was being chased by at least six vehicles driven by members of the paparazzi.

Raef's Toyota Rav 4 was among the vehicles trailing Bieber, driving over 80 miles per hour across all lanes of traffic and at times, driving on the shoulder. The California Highway Patrol noted that they attempted to pull over Raef's vehicle along with Bieber's Fisker, but Raef sped off.

"Bieber was driving like a maniac," L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD officer, told TMZ. "He was weaving in and out of traffic. There was hardly any space between cars as he weaved from lane to lane. I was going 60 and he drove by me like he was in a rocket ship."

Police would not disclose how fast Bieber was driving. An officer told KABC Television, OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company, that he and the driver chasing him were driving in a "reckless" way. The Canadian singer, who lives in Atlanta, was followed by several celebrity photographers at the time, some of which captured footage of Bieber being pulled over. The clips were posted on X17Online.com and TMZ (see video, below).

The footage shows a California Highway Patrol officer walking up to Bieber's car from the front passenger's side. His image is reflected on the vehicle, which does not appear to contain any other passengers. Bieber then rolls up the window as another officer, who arrived on a motorcycle and is wearing a helmet, approaches the singer at his open window on the driver's side.

A photo of Bieber sitting in his car, looking directly at the camera with a pained expression on his face was also posted on X17Online.com.

Bieber had received his Fisker Karma, a luxury plug-in hybrid car worth at least $100,000, for his 18th birthday. His manager surprised him with the gift on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in March. He later had it customized with chrome wrap. Fisker Automotive has built about 2,000 Karmas since fall 2011.

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