Three members of an Orange County band, whose performance on top of a truck on the Hollywood (101) Freeway caused a massive traffic jam, were sentenced today to probation and community service.
Christopher Roy Wright, 34, David Paul Hale, 32, and Keith R. Yackey, 33, each pleaded no contest to one felony count of conspiracy, one misdemeanor count of public nuisance and two misdemeanor counts of resisting, obstructing or delaying law enforcement officers.
Judge Norm Shapiro sentenced all three to three years probation and 35 days of community labor.
Over Deputy District Attorney Ryan Dibble's objection, the judge said he would consider reducing the felony charge to a misdemeanor in 18 months.
``This was felony conduct,'' Dibble said outside the courtroom. ``We were ready to go for trial.''
When the band members were charged, District Attorney Steve Cooley disparaged what he called ``a well-orchestrated commercial stunt perpetrated by these defendants and their accomplices with no concern for the lives or well- being of thousands of innocent victims who were caught up in the prank.''
The trio make up The Imperial Stars, a self-described ``hard-core hip hop band'' with a song called ``Traffic Jam 101.''
During a preliminary hearing, Los Angeles police Sgt. Salvador Ogaz testified that he drove onto the freeway after seeing a number of people on an overpass with cell phones, then saw three people on top of a large truck singing and playing music on the freeway near Sunset Boulevard just after 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2010.
``I observed traffic had been stopped, pretty much all lanes, except the number four lane,'' the sergeant testified. He activated the patrol car's sirens and lights and told the musicians to come down from the truck, but also said that they probably didn't hear him.
Ultimately the Los Angeles Fire Department raised a ladder up the side of the truck and the musicians climbed down. The truck -- which had been parked across three of the four southbound lanes of the freeway and equipped with speakers, amplifiers, photos of the band and barbed wire -- had to be towed away because the driver fled with the keys.
``The traffic was stopped for miles, at least a mile for sure,'' Ogaz testified. ``We were there a long time.''
Shapiro ordered the trio to return to court Jan. 25 for a restitution hearing.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS
After watching the "Traffic Jam 101" video to the right, do you think their sentence is harsh enough?
- City News Service