Shepard Fairey dug a dumb hole for himself when he tried to cover up and change evidence in his civil court battle with Associated Press over the image he used for his iconic “Hope” poster.
That dispute appeared to us to end in a draw, but because the L.A. street artist destroyed documents and manufactured evidence, he could see six months behind bars.
The U.S. Attorney in New York today announced that …
… Fairey pleaded guilty to criminal contempt in connection with his treatment of evidence in his civil court litigation against AP.
In 2009 Fairey admitted to his mistake, which was summarized by us back then:
In Fairey's legal battle with the Associated Press, a question of exactly which photo he appropriated became the focus of concern. When Fairey filed his lawsuit against the AP, he claimed he had used a photo taken by AP photographer Mannie Garcia. The AP insisted Fairey had used a different photo. According to Fairey, early on in the case he realized the AP was right. But he didn't come clean:
“In an attempt to conceal my mistake, I submitted false images and deleted other images,” Fairey wrote on his website. “I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone.”
We sort of doubt Fairey will do time for this: His plea today has all the markings of a bargain with prosecutors, but what that deal was perhaps only they know.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:
As he admitted today, Shepard Fairey, an artist associated with an iconic image from the 2008 presidential campaign, went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation, creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process. The justice system – civil and criminal – depends on the integrity of lawyers and non-lawyers alike to follow the rules. Those who break the rules risk sanctions, including, in certain cases, criminal prosecution.
Keep hope alive, Shepard.
[The U.S. Attorney's full press release]: