Producer Of Anti-Muslim Film Arrested On Probation Violation

The California man identified as the producer of Innocence Of Muslims, the film that has sparked protests across the Muslim world, was arrested late yesterday on charges related to violation of the terms of his probation on Federal fraud charges:

Los Angeles (CNN) – Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man allegedly behind the inflammatory film “Innocence of Muslims,” was ordered held without bail Thursday after being arrested in California and accused of violating his probation.

“He engaged in a likely pattern of deception both to his probation officers and the court,” Judge Suzanne Segal said in issuing her ruling.

The preliminary bail hearing began with Segal asking the defendant — dressed in gray slacks and a white and yellow striped T-shirt, with handcuffs and chain around his waist — what his true name was.

“Mark Basseley Yousseff,” he replied.

The judge then asked again, what is your name?

“Mark Basseley,” he said this time, again without spelling the name out.

The lawyer for the suspect, who has used at least 17 false names, according to court documents, but is mostly referred to as Nakoula, then argued for $10,000 bail.

Attorney Steve Seiden said his client had always maintained contact, in person and by telephone, with probation officers who have been monitoring him since his 2010 bank fraud conviction. But the main reason Nakoula shouldn’t be jailed, his lawyer argued, was for safety reasons, saying the anti-Islam film would make him a target of fellow inmates.

“It is a danger for him to remain in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles because there are a large number of Muslims in there,” Seiden said. “We are extremely concerned about his safety.”

Making no mention of aliases, the lawyer added that Nakoula had made no attempt to flee Southern California and never would.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale then addressed the judge, claiming the man — who he referred to as Nakoula or Bassil — had engaged in a “pattern of deception” and “a person who cannot be trusted.”

Dugdale pointed to a probation report citing eight allegations in which Nakoula had allegedly violated his probation. One of those was a requirement not to use aliases without permission from his probation officer, something the prosecutor said Nakoula did on at least three instances: during his fraud case, when he tried to get a passport in 2011, and during the making of the film. Dugdale said Nakoula had deceived the cast of the film, as well as his probation officers.

The Judge in the case has also set a hearing to determine Nakoula’s actual identity, and there will be a formal revocation hearing at some point in the future. Until then, Nakoula will remain in custody, most likely segregated from the general population for his safety.

No doubt, some people are going to allege that Nakoula is being punished for his association with the movie, but if the allegations made by the U.S. Attorney are true then there seems to be a fairly strong case that he has in fact violated the terms of his probation and indeed may not even be using his correct legal name. Given the nature of his fraud conviction, that would amount to a fairly serious problem.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Good informative post, Doug. Thanks.

  2. JKB says:

    What this really is the government thugs, i.e., those who are responsible for keeping paroles and probationers down, used common tactics but in this case, with greater political significance. As a probationer, this guy actually does belong to the government and until he is free and clear, he will be subjected to the “whims” of the federal authorities to keep him aware of his property status. Just so happens, the government was able to use this common practice to show common cause with the muslim thugs overseas.

    But the government men’s actions were geared to send a message not to him but to anyone who might dare upset the savages in some foreign land. No doubt, had he not been owned by the government, he’d be up on charges of using pesticide in violation of the directions or tearing mattress tags off, or selling children’s toys and clothing at a yard sale, etc.

  3. mantis says:

    @JKB:

    Bullshit. If it weren’t, Terry Jones would also be in jail for his many attempts to enrage Muslims, some successful. Alas, he is free as a bird, and you are dumb as a post.

  4. Nikki says:

    @JKB: And, right on cue, the members of the “law & order” party make themselves look even more ridiculous by championing the cause of a serial con artist and parole violator.

  5. jukeboxgrad says:

    jkb:

    the government thugs

    Pay no attention to what Popehat said. And a new post by him with additional details is here.

    Also, you’re a liar.

  6. Anderson says:

    Is there some law forbidding prosecutors to take external factors into account in exercising their discretion?

    Would Capone have been prosecuted for tax evasion if he hadn’t been a gangster?

  7. mattb says:

    @JKB:

    No doubt, had he not been owned by the government, he’d be up on charges of using pesticide in violation of the directions or tearing mattress tags off, or selling children’s toys and clothing at a yard sale, etc.

    Right… just like the feds locked Terry Jones away after his Koran Burning stint.

    Oh wait… that never happened.

    Why do you make crap like this up?

  8. Jim Treacher says:

    “It’s not free speech if WE don’t like it!”

  9. jukeboxgrad says:

    “It’s not free speech if WE don’t like it!”

    “He’s exempt from parole requirements if he says mean things about people we don’t like!”

  10. Just Me says:

    If he violated his terms, he violated his terms.

    Although I do think he has been turned into a scapegoat by the government (I think the movie was the convenient excuse for the various demonstrations-it was 9-11 there were going to be demonstrations with or without this movie).

  11. mantis says:

    I wonder if Treacher and the rest of the wingnut brain trust will explain to us why they think criminals should be exempt from prosecution if they also publicly insult Muslims. Don’t you think such a system, apart from the fact that it is against some very bedrock American principles, would invite quite a bit of abuse?

    “Sure, your honor, I killed him and stole his car, but I also posted a video on YouTube calling Muslims dirty scum.”

    Case dismissed!

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Judge in the case has also set a hearing to determine Nakoula’s actual identity,

    And yet, JKB and Treacher actually think he is being persecuted for his speech…

  13. jukeboxgrad says:

    why they think criminals should be exempt from prosecution if they also publicly insult Muslims

    John Cole summarized the problem:

    Apparently, the 1st amendment protects everyone from parole violations. Who knew?

  14. john personna says:

    As phrased by BoingBoing:

    A California judge has detained him for violating the terms of his probation by using a computer to make and upload the crappy and controversial film to YouTube.

    Well crap. How many of us suggested that here and were told that it was an unreasonable guess?

  15. Midwestern Dad says:

    If someone was on probation for a felony and were told to get permission to leave the state and showed up on television in a different state without such permission, the probation officer and court would be remiss to not act on public information. Isn’t that functionally what happened here?

  16. Ken says:

    “As phrased by BoingBoing:”

    With all respect to BoingBoing: what’s their source? The charging document is still under seal (I just checked on PACER), BoingBoing links to itself for the proposition, and I haven’t yet seen any news stories listing the particular charges.

  17. jukeboxgrad says:

    I haven’t yet seen any news stories listing the particular charges.

    I don’t know if this sheds any light on what you’re asking:

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale … pointed to a probation report citing eight allegations in which Nakoula had allegedly violated his probation. One of those was a requirement not to use aliases without permission from his probation officer, something the prosecutor said Nakoula did on at least three instances: during his fraud case, when he tried to get a passport in 2011 and during the making of the film. Dugdale said Nakoula had deceived the cast of the film as well as his probation officers. The prosecutor also noted that Nakoula was able to afford to make payments during the making of the film, saying it further raised concerns about the possibility of him fleeing the area while the legal case against him proceeds.

    I like this part: “He has used at least 17 false names, according to court documents.”

    Or this:

    Nakoula … faces eight charges of probation violation, including making false statements to authorities about the film. When probation officials questioned him about the video, Nakoula allegedly claimed his role was limited to writing the script, and denied ever using the name “Sam Bacile” in connection to the film … Dugdale said there is evidence Nakoula’s role in making “Innocence of Muslims” was “much more expansive” than penning the script. Prosecutors said Nakoula could face new criminal charges for lying to federal officials.

    The guy is a professional liar. No wonder Republicans see him as a hero.

  18. Ken says:

    That’s better data, jukeboxgrad. But it’s still a little unclear. It’s not clear how much of that DigDug (his nickname in the office, at least long ago) was articulating those things because they went to flight risk, and how much was him listing charges.