San Jose Judge Fines Graffiti Artist ‘Girafa’ $38,000 For Vandalism

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A judge ordered the graffiti artist Steven Free, known among taggers as Girafa, three years probation and a hefty fine for painting thousands of images of giraffes on public and private property throughout San Jose.

Free pleaded guilty to two felony counts of felony vandalism and two misdemeanor counts as part of a plea deal in which authorities dropped six other counts against him.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

“We hope that this serves as a good lesson not only to Mr. Free but anyone out there that’s considering vandalizing or committing this type of activity, that we will come after you,” said Officer Jose Garcia, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Department.

The department’s Graffiti Task Force used software that tracks tagging styles to connect Free, now 32, to the giraffe paintings. The San Jose in turn matched similar images on social networking sites that identified him.

The case slowly made its way through Santa Clara County Superior Court after Free, a San Francisco resident, was arrested in 2009.

Under the plea deal reached this week, Free will pay $38,000 in restitution for clean-up costs associated with work authorities consider blight.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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