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    Calif. man behind anti-Muslim film gets prison

    LOS ANGELES — The California man behind an anti-Muslim film that roiled the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for violating his probation stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction by lying about his identity.

    US District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver’s license. Prosecutors agreed to drop the other four allegations under an agreement with Youssef’s attorneys, which also included more probation.

    None of the violations had to do with the content of ‘‘Innocence of Muslims,’’ a film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile, and womanizer.


    However, Assistant US Attorney Robert Dugdale argued Yousef’s lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film’s cast and crew. The movie sparked violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.

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    ‘‘They had no idea he was a recently released felon,’’ Dugdale said Wednesday. ‘‘Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts’’ about being part of the film.

    Youssef’s attorney Steven Seiden said his client admits to being the film’s scriptwriter but had no other involvement except what he described as being a ‘‘cultural adviser.’’

    Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted in the Middle East.

    Enraged Muslims had demanded punishment for Youssef, with a Pakistani Cabinet minister offering $100,000 to anyone who kills him.


    Federal authorities initially sought a two-year sentence for Youssef but settled on a one-year term. Prosecutors said they wouldn’t pursue new charges against Youssef and would drop the remaining four probation-violation allegations leveled against him. But Youssef was placed on four years’ probation and must be truthful about his identity and his future finances.

    Seiden asked that his client be placed under home confinement, but Snyder denied that request. Youssef will spend his time behind bars at a Southern California prison.

    Youssef served most of his 21-month prison sentence for using more than a dozen aliases and opening about 60 bank accounts to conduct a check fraud scheme, prosecutors said.