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Famed As Sam Bacile, Into Prison As Mark Basseley Youssef

Jen Nowell |
November 7, 2012 | 8:12 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

The California filmmaker, who was behind the anti-Islam Youtube video that sparked controversy after deadly protest in the Middle East, was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for violating his probation following a 2010 bank fraud case.

Mark Basseley Youssef, 55 — who previously used the names Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Youssef, among others — admitted to four allegations of using fake names, including obtaining a California driver's license under a false name. Youssef initially faced eight probation violations, but it was dropped to four.

In a Los Angeles federal court, Judge Christina Snyder also ordered Youssef to four years of supervised release after he serves 12 months in prison.

Youssef pleaded no contest in 2010 to bank fraud charges for using fake Social Security numbers to open more than 60 bank and credit card accounts, defrauding the bank of more than $800,000, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale in court.

Youssef was prohibited from using fictitious names during his probation, but he pleaded guilty under a false name, which Snyder said defrauded the court.

Ths is a "serious breach of the court's trust," Dugdale said.

Dugdale said the 14-minute video "Innocence of Muslims" had nothing to do with Youssef violating his probation, but he deceived the actors by not disclosing his real name or that he was a recently released felon. The actors have received death threats as a result of being in the film, he said.

Dugdale said the film had ruined the actors' careers. The clip depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.

Inflammatory dialogue was also dubbed in over the actors' speech, Dugdale said.

"This is a defendant who has engaged in a ling pattern of deception," Dugdale said. "His dishonesty goes back years."

Youssef's deception has caused great harm to many people, Dugdale said. Youssef was facing two years in prison, as recommended by the defense, before one year was agreed upon.

Defense attorney Steve Seiden said anyone working on a movie has the right to make changes, and the actors, who were unknown before, signed releases, authorizing changes.

Protests that were initially blamed for the short movie started in August — first in  Egypt, then Benghazi on Sept. 11 where U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Reach reporter Jen Nowell here.



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