Felony Charges For Imperial Stars

The Orange County “hip hop group” that parked a truck on a Hollywood freeway in October, effectively shutting the highway down while they performed on top of the vehicle, is still in the news. But soft! The news is they are now felons.

In what may be one of the dumbest episodes of self-promotion in an industry that thrives on hype, self-described hardcore hip hop group Imperial Stars blocked three lanes of traffic when it parked a box van across southbound U.S. 101 near the Sunset Boulevard exit at approximately 10 a.m. Tuesday Oct. 12, then climbed on top of the vehicle and gave newly stranded motorists an impromptu concert.

Traffic backed up for miles by the time police arrived. Plus, because the driver of the van immediately fled with the vehicle’s keys, it was a few hours before the van was towed away and traffic flowed once more.

Three members of Imperial Stars were arrested and freed on $20,000 bail according to the Orange County Register. Since then, the band hired a powerful Los Angeles public relations firm to spread the word that the stunt was all about drawing attention to America’s homeless children.

But not all press is good press: The latest chapter in this little episode was Nov. 30 when Imperial Stars members Christopher Roy Wright, David Paul Hale and Keith Richard Yackey were charged with felony conspiracy charges.

“This was not a matter involving free speech or lawful protest,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said in a statement according to the OC Register. “This 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.
“I hope this filing sends a strong message of deterrence. This type of dangerous behavior will not be tolerated.”

The three Imperial Stars members were each charged with one misdemeanor count of public nuisance and false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of resisting, obstructing or delaying police. There is also one felony count of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.

Individually, the charges could result in up to three years in prison for the band members, reminding aspiring musicians everywhere that blocking a freeway in Los Angeles probably isn’t the best approach to spreading the word.

Meanwhile, a court official told the Register that the driver who parked the van and took off with the keys will be charged as a co-conspirator. That is, once he is identified.