Authorities say Scott "Scooter" Braun, 28, intentionally hindered the efforts of police as they tried to call off Bieber's appearance amid the burgeoning star-struck fracas at the Roosevelt Field Mall.
Detectives said Braun refused cops' orders to send out a Twitter message to fans saying the event had been cancelled due to dangerous overcrowding conditions and blocked the singer's account so no one else could send the Tweet either.
Police arrested Braun this morning and he was arraigned on reckless endangerment, criminal nuisance and endangering the welfare of a child in First District Court, Hempstead, this afternoon before Judge Angelo Delligatti. If convicted, Braun faces up to one year in prison. He's next due in court on April 7.
Braun's attorney, Manhattan lawyer Ravi Batra, says that his client wasn't by a computer when cops called to ask him to send the Tweet, but got in front of one and sent it within 10 minutes. Batra says he is asking the Nassau County District Attorney's Office to reopen the investigation because he says Braun broke no law.
"Absent Scooter having a Superman's cape, he couldn't have done it any faster," Batra said. "As a result of his lawful compliance with police instruction, [we believe the DA] will dismiss the charges after reopening the investigation."
Batra added that he then hoped Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, upon whom he lavished high personal and professional regard, would make a joint application with him to the court to expunge Braun's arrest record.
The arrest stems from a scheduled autograph signing event at the mall last November. Bieber was due to appear at a clothing store in the complex from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 20, but by 1:30 p.m., more than 3,000 people had already lined up in the staging area where they were instructed to wait for a chance to meet the Canadian teen sensation. Those in charge of the event had only expected 1,000 fans to show.
The swelling crowd of boisterous fans sparked a series of 911 calls reporting the potentially dangerous situation and expressing concern people could be trampled.
Cops and mall security opted to shut down the event for public safety reasons, and told Island Def Jam Senior Vice President James Roppo, who was in charge of the event, and the crowd that the Bieber appearance was off. But the crowd didn't listen.
Instead, fans left the garage and swarmed the second floor walkway in the mall near the store where Bieber was supposed to appear. By that time, school was out, and students eager to see their idol exacerbated an already out of control situation, prosecutors say.
Cops say they couldn't diffuse the mob because a message from Bieber's Twitter account to fans urged more to keep coming. The Tweet said: "On my way to Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, NY to sign and meet fans! I’m pumped. See u there."
Authorities asked Roppo to call off the event via Tweet but they say he didn't oblige. An hour later, someone else tried to send the cancellation message but Braun had allegedly changed the password to the account so he could control the event – a move designed to maximize publicity at the expense of public safety, prosecutors say.
Cops contacted Braun and told him about the situation but the manager gave authorities the runaround, prosecutors say. When they warned him he would be arrested if he didn't cooperate, Braun allegedly told them to spell his name right on the warrant.
It wasn't until authorities arrested Roppo at the scene that Braun sent out two tweets cancelling the event – 90 minutes after cops asked him to. The crowd dispersed within 15 minutes of the cancellation tweets going out, prosecutors say.
"Mr. Braun put his own selfish desire for publicity above public safety and endangered the very fans who came to see his client, as well as innocent bystanders who were at the mall that day," said Rice. "By refusing to send out the cancellation Tweet and preventing others from doing so, he blatantly ignored police directives and put thousands of innocent people in harm’s way."