Obama "Hope" poster artist receives probation

Updated at 11:22 a.m. ET

(AP) NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York has given two years of probation to an artist who created the "HOPE" poster that came to symbolize Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Shepard Fairey was sentenced Friday in Manhattan. He also will do 300 hours of community service.

The government said in a presentence memorandum that Fairey, 42, should get some prison time. He was convicted of criminal contempt for destroying documents and fabricating others in a civil lawsuit he brought against The Associated Press.

Prosecutors say Fairey had "both an ideological and financial motive" to alter evidence in his favor after basing his poster on one of the AP's photographs.

"This was not a mere failure to preserve documents," the government wrote. "This was the intentional destruction of evidence and the intentional manufacture of false evidence. The defendant knew exactly what he was doing when he created the fake documents and sought to destroy the deleted documents."

No prison term, they said, would send a "terrible message" to others who might engage in similar conduct.

Defense attorneys said a prison term was not warranted. They say Fairey is contrite and settled his civil case with the AP on unfavorable terms that included sanctions.

Photographer, AP drop claims against each other

They said Fairey is contrite and noted that he settled his civil case with the AP on unfavorable terms that included sanctions. The government outlined in its court papers that the deal required Fairey to pay the AP $1.6 million, with an insurance company contributing about $450,000 of that amount.

In their sentencing memorandum, defense lawyers described Fairey as a devoted husband and father of two young daughters who runs companies that employ almost 30 people and who serves as the creative force behind a clothing line that employs another 80 people.

They called his crime the "worst mistake of his life" and said he altered evidence "not to better his chances of winning the lawsuit or to enrich himself, but out of fear of embarrassment."

The lawyers wrote that Fairey, who has diabetes, has already suffered "significant damage to his reputation," adding that an Internet search of his name "now produces results not just about his artistic and civic accomplishments, but also many websites degrading him for his misconduct."


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