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OC Band Pleads Not Guilty For Hollywood Freeway ‘Jam’

3 face felony conspiracy, misdemeanor charges
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The publicity stunt that tied up traffic on the 101 for miles. (credit: Miguel Hernandez/UGC/CBS)

The publicity stunt that tied up traffic on the 101 for miles. (credit: Miguel Hernandez/UGC/CBS)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Three members of an Orange County band behind a miles-long traffic backup when they began performing on top of a parked truck on the Hollywood (101) Freeway pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal charges.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports

Christopher Roy Wright, 32, David Paul Hale, 30, and Keith R. Yackey, 32, are charged with one felony count of conspiracy, two misdemeanor counts of resisting, obstructing or delaying Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers, and one misdemeanor count each of creating a public nuisance and false imprisonment.

The three climbed on top of a truck decorated with pictures of their band and its logos about 11 a.m. on Oct. 12 and performed as traffic ground to a halt around the vehicle, which blocked three of the four southbound lanes of the freeway near Sunset Boulevard.

According to the criminal complaint, the vehicle was specially outfitted for the “concert” and the date was changed from Columbus Day to one day later “so that more vehicles would be on the freeway and thus cause a bigger disruption.”

The Imperial Stars, the trio’s self-described “hard core hip hop band” from Orange County, has a song called “Traffic Jam 101.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall doubled bail for the three from $10,000 to $20,000 and ordered them to post the higher amount by their next court appearance on Dec. 28. On that day, a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require the three to stand trial.

When asked by the trio’s attorney, Roger Rosen, to leave bail at the $10,000 the three had already posted, the judge said, “This is just so over the top that I’m not going to give them a bail reduction.”

The judge — who said he thought “what happened was not particularly funny” — told Rosen to warn his clients that there would be “absolutely hideous results of any similar behavior.”

Outside court, band members said they respected what the judge had to say, but maintained they took the action for a higher cause than promoting their band.

“I definitely want to raise awareness for the homeless children, but maybe not in this fashion,” Hale said when asked if any similar actions were planned.

When the three were charged Nov. 30, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said it was 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 defendants are accused of repeatedly refusing officers’ instructions to stop playing their musical instruments, get down off the vehicle and move the truck.

Police arrived and made three arrests, but the driver took the keys to the truck and drove off in another vehicle. A tow truck had to be called in to remove the vehicle, and the freeway lanes were not reopened until shortly after noon.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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