Last Updated:November 26 @ 11:35 am

Feds lean on Calif. filmmaker

By AP Staff

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Southern California filmmaker linked to an anti-Islamic movie inflaming protests across the Middle East was interviewed by federal probation officers at a Los Angeles sheriff's station but was not arrested or detained, authorities said early Saturday.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was interviewed at the station in his hometown of Cerritos, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Don Walker said.

Federal officials have said they were investigating the activities of Nakoula, who has been convicted of financial crimes. If the probation department determines Nakoula violated terms of his release, a judge could send him back to prison.

Walker said Nakoula traveled voluntarily in a squad car with deputies.

"He went to the Cerritos station to talk with probation officers. He's not under any arrest," Walker said.

The deputy said he doesn't have information on the interview or how long it lasted. KNBC-TV reported that Nakoula went to the station early Saturday morning.

The TV station said that media had been staking out the home at the end of a cul de sac in the Southern California city when the man emerged wearing a coat, hat, scarf and glasses.

There was no answer early Saturday at the federal probation department's California's central district office in Los Angeles.

The probation department is reviewing the case of Nakoula, who was previously convicted on bank fraud charges and was banned from using computers or the Internet as part of his sentence. The review is aimed at learning whether Nakoula violated the terms of his five-year probation.

Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the administrative office of the U.S. courts, confirmed Friday the review is under way.

Federal authorities have identified Nakoula, a self-described Coptic Christian, as the key figure behind "Innocence of Muslims," a film denigrating Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East. A federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday that authorities had connected Nakoula to a man using the pseudonym of Sam Bacile who claimed earlier to be writer and director of the film.

Violent protests set off by the film in Libya played a role in mob attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American officials. U.S. Embassy gates in Cairo were breached by protesters and demonstrations against American missions spread to Yemen on Thursday and on Friday to several other countries.

Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.

His attorney cited Nakoula's poor health in a bid for leniency and home detention, stating his client suffered from Hepatitis C, diabetes that require twice-daily insulin shots, and other ailments that required more than 10 medications a day, according to a transcript of the sentencing obtained by the AP.

Many records in case remain sealed, but prosecutors sought a longer prison term and noted that he misused some of his own relatives' identities to open 600 fraudulent credit accounts. Nakoula apologized during the proceedings and his attorney James D. Henderson Sr. said Nakoula had learned his lesson.

"He's clearly gotten the message," Henderson said. "I can't imagine him doing anything stupider than what he did here, but what's done is done."

Henderson said during the hearing that his client had been enlisted by another man to open the accounts and had only received $60,000 to $70,000 from the fraudulent transactions. He got involved in the scheme after losing his job in the gas station industry and had been forced to work for a few dollars a weekend at swap meets to try to support his children and an ailing father, Henderson said, according to the transcript.

It could be difficult to establish a probation violation case against Nakoula. In the federal court system, the conditions of supervised release are geared toward the offense for which a defendant was found guilty and imprisoned.

In Nakoula's case, the offense was bank fraud. His no contest plea was to charges of setting up fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and Social Security numbers, depositing checks from those accounts into other phony accounts and then withdrawing the illicit funds from ATM machines.

While it was unclear what might have provoked authorities' interest, the filmmaker's use of a false identity and his access to the Internet through computers could be at issue, according to experts in cyber law and the federal probation system. Nakoula, who told the AP that he was logistics manager for the film, was under requirements to provide authorities with records of all his bank and business accounts.

The probation order authorized in June 2010 warned Nakoula against using false identities. Nakoula was told not to "use, for any purpose or in any manner, any name other than his/her true legal name or names without the prior written approval of the Probation Officer."

Federal prosecutors had charged that Nakoula used multiple false identities in creating his fraudulent accounts. Several, Nicola Bacily and Erwin Salameh, were similar to the Sam Bacile pseudonym used to set up the YouTube account for the anti-Islamic film. Other pseudonyms used in the accounts ranged from Ahmed Hamdy to P.J. Tobacco.

Nakoula was also told he could not have any access to the Internet "without the prior approval of the probation officer." Nakoula was ordered to detail any online devices and cellphones to authorities and was told his devices would be monitored and subject to searches.

Jennifer Granick, a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in online crimes, said authorities might not have been aware of Nakoula's online activity even if monitoring devices were placed on his computers. "That may be very hard for a probation officer to catch ahead of time."

Granick also noted that Nakoula's conviction for financial crimes might provide a basis for probation officials to review bank and other monetary records. "Somebody charged with a financial crime might receive some supervision categories where they might re-offend," she said.

Nakoula was arrested in June 2009, pleaded no contest to the bank fraud charges a year later and was released from federal prison in June 2011 after serving a 21-month prison term, according to federal records.

An initial report about the federal probation review appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

There are indications that "Innocence of Muslims" may have already been under way as a film project when Nakoula was arrested. A casting call for actors and crew for a film called "Desert Warrior" ran in Backstage magazine, based in Los Angeles and New York, in May and June 2009. The casting call described the film project as a "historical Arabian Desert adventure" and listed a "Sam Bassiel" as producer.

One notice identified "Pharaoh Voice Inc."as the film's production company. California state records show Pharaoh Voice was incorporated in September 2007 by a "Youssef M. Basseley." The principal address for Pharaoh Voice in Hawaiian Gardens, a southern California community, is the same location where Nakoula lived until 2008, according to state records.

During an interview with AP, Nakoula denied that he was Sam Bacile, but acknowledged knowing him.


Associated Press writers Bob Seavey in Phoenix and Pete Yost, Stephen Braun and Ted Bridis in Washington contributed to this report.


GOPUSA Editor's Note: GOPUSA believes that the embassy attacks were orchestrated by terrorists and are not the result of a poorly made anti-Muslim film, as hte White House and US media continue to insist.

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  1. Jim ForsytheComment by Jim Forsythe
    September 15, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    There is something about free speech that the administration goons do not seem to understand. They are trying to blame our demonstrated weakness under this administration on someone else.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      September 17, 2012 @ 11:41 am

      Sam Bacile or ImBecile,,,it does not matter when it comes to American individual rights to free speech.

      “I may not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your Right to say it”

      Unless you are a Muslim educated President who cannot separate his Faux religion from the State,,,,,of his mind.

      I reiterate, Islam is A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION disguised as a religion. Its tentacles have been wrapped in politics form the days of it’s origin,,,with the Muslims it is all about power over you and your mind in submission and anyone who knows his history knows that those who refuse to submit are beheaded along with any Concepts of American personal freedom.

      This disoriented President who protects the “FEELINGS” of Muslims over the bodies of our troops and ambassadors is unfit to govern a free American people.

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  2. BillComment by Bill
    September 15, 2012 @ 11:31 am

    IT’S OBAMA’S FAULTS: The riots and killings in Libya is Obama’s fault! If Obama hadn’t helped destroy the secular government in Libya the government would have been stable and that would”t have happened. He even used the U.S. Air force paid for with our tax dollars to destroy the secular government. It’s Obama’s fault.

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    Rating: 4.8/5 (20 votes cast)
  3. billwhit1357Comment by billwhit1357
    September 15, 2012 @ 11:39 am

    This is a bunch of BS, as usual, from the Obambi Administration. Why don’t they look into the possibility that all of Obama’s bragging about killing Osama bin Laden might also have caused the attacks! I mean, he acts like he took out bin Laden all his little lonesome, the way he brags! The video is just a lame excuse from this Failed Administration who knew of the attack two days in advance and did nothing! This is all Obama’s Fault, Libya is his baby!

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  4. Jack ReacherComment by Jack Reacher
    September 15, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

    Unless the FEDS are investigating this guy for criminal activity, (and freedom of speech is not a crime), then they should leave this guy alone.

    The video is not the cause of the unrest. These attacks were planned in advance. The movie was merely an extra added attraction and incitement for these Neanderthals from the 7th century to show their collective a**es.

    You American Muslims must be really proud of your “peaceful religion”. Ha! What a joke.

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    • barnrnComment by barnrn
      September 15, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

      Don’t forget they get their little feelings hurt. It’s time for the “peaceful religion” to put on their big boy pants. Grow up!

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  5. kanudawgComment by kanudawg
    September 15, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    What gets me is, this video has been out there for months and months. All of a sudden all of the Muslim countries are aware of it. I wonder why if this was so bad [I have watched the trailer]why it was not mentioned earlier in the year? I personally feel it was basically an abridged version of the history of Mohammed. Anyone else that watched it think the same way?

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    • mach37Comment by mach37
      September 15, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

      I would bet that not 1% of the Muslims rioting had seen the YouTube video. The production was so amateurish and awkward that I would think only the most backwards uneducated person fail to see it as a farce, a comedy.

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    • wumingrenComment by wumingren
      September 15, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

      But the Muslims have already murdered people for making humorous drawings of their prophet. They have no sense of humor, so even if it was a slap-stick Three Stooges presentation, the Muslims would be lusting for blood.

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  6. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    September 15, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    What a farce. I guess I too can expect a ‘visit’ from the Feds for all my writings here, and on other blogs. This was pplanned, coordinated attack, and any excuse would have sufficed. Read the Moslem Brotherhood charter, and understand the roots of Al Quaida.

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  7. cxComment by genesal
    September 15, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    It was 9/11 for crying out loud. I was expecting an attack on American soil. We were lucky. The people to blame are the people who are ‘trying to take over the world’, the Muslims and the Muslim sympathizers, Emperor O and Associates, who are ‘aiding and abetting’!

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  8. Robert Joseph ReinigComment by Robert Joseph Reinig
    September 15, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    The film was just a pretext, considering it’s been out since July, either these Muslims are slow on the uptake, which may not be that far from the truth, since bombing them back to the stone age would be like last week. I think this movie was just a convenient excuse to mask the activities planned for the anniversary of 9/11. I also got a very good quote from my Dad today that says; ‘A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins blaming someone else for his failures.” Sound like someone we know? Reagan has an even worse mess to deal with than Obama and instead of blaming Carter, Reagan went to work, fixed the mess and left us in a much better state than when he came into office. If Obama gets reelected, look at the mess he’ll inherit and I’ll bet he still blames anybody and everybody for it, except himself.

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  9. willyrhoComment by willyrho
    September 15, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

    More Propaganda from the Information Minister Jo Seph Goebbels In Chief.

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  10. noveldogComment by noveldog
    September 15, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    Why should he be arrested? He had the right, just like everyone else, to present his points of veiw, no matter whether they are right or wrong. These folks have been attacking us for years and years….long before this film was made. So should we just bow down to them in hopes of keeping the peace? No! Bullies only understand one thing….a good old fashioned rump stomping. Let’s ge on with it and get it over with so there can be peace again, ok?

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  11. barnrnComment by barnrn
    September 15, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

    That 14 minute film made as much sense as the Quran. There’s enough of us out here to make enough noise to support the man’s 1st ammendment rights. We will not be bullied by the thought police.

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  12. woodwizard77Comment by woodwizard77
    September 15, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

    wake up AMERICA the muussys are proving that this Mel Brooks style movie is closer to the truth than they want to admit

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  13. Bill KayComment by Bill Kay
    September 16, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Like an american service man said a ww2 Vet , anyone that tries to kill / kills an american is Dead , and I like that attitude dead, when in a fight why let the the other guy have the first shot , the best defence is a swift and fatal offence .

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  14. Chuck DegeComment by Chuck Dege
    September 18, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    Did you happen to notice in this article they not only provided the mans age, but his full name and his hometown. No, he wasn’t arrested, heck they never even called him a person of interest, but I’ll tell ya what he might be next! A Dead man walking thanks to this article. If the real reason for the outrage all over the eastern world is his film don’t you think that armed with such data, name, age, & hometown that he could be located and they would have the tue source of their anger at their disposal? If I were him, I’d b looking to move, and quickly!

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