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Daredevil tagger gets nearly 4 years in prison

Cyrus Yazdani, a 26-year-old San Jose State graduate, gained a near-cult following after a YouTube video was posted of him vandalizing a sign 20 feet above the busy 101 Freeway.

September 11, 2009|Andrew Blankstein

"Buket," the daredevil tagger who gained Internet notoriety for his brazen, daylight tagging of a sign over the 101 Freeway and vandalism of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus, was sentenced Thursday to three years and eight months in state prison.

Cyrus Yazdani, a 26-year-old San Jose State graduate who has developed a near-cult following, was on probation after pleading guilty in December to 32 felony vandalism counts.

In July, he pleaded no contest to one count of felony vandalism and accepted financial responsibility for five vandalism incidents. Four of the counts were dismissed Thursday. Yazdani must pay $117,196 in restitution.

Los Angeles County sheriff's transit investigators arrested Yazdani in May after Buket tags appeared on the 7th Street and Cesar Chavez bridges and in the 4200 block of South Broadway.

Sheriff's officials said Yazdani was found in possession of scribers, which are used in tagging. He also had paint splatter on his clothing.

In December, after pleading guilty, Yazdani was sentenced to 10 months in county jail, 256 hours of graffiti removal duty and five years' formal probation. He was released from jail based on credit for time served.

That case stemmed from a tagging spree between 2005 and 2007, during which Yazdani sprayed his tags on buses, freeway walls and overpasses, as well as the concrete lining of the Los Angeles River, authorities said.

Yazdani became something of an Internet sensation when he plastered his Buket "bomb" 20 feet above the busy 101 Freeway near Melrose Avenue -- vandalism that was captured on videotape and posted with a rap soundtrack on YouTube and numerous tagger-related blogs.

Another daylight attack, which also was videotaped, appeared to show Buket applying his moniker to an MTA bus as passersby and passengers watched in surprise.

A YouTube video that captured both tagging exploits has had more than 450,000 views. But the notoriety also got the attention of sheriff's transit investigators, who arrested Yazdani in May.

Sheriff's officials said they had evidence that Yazdani had marked hundreds of freeway overpasses, concrete walls and transit buses throughout California and southern Nevada.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified at least 20 Buket scrawlings along a stretch of the river spanning a couple of miles, which caused an estimated $60,000 in damage.

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andrew.blankstein @latimes.com

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