By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The elevator company scion who defaced Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during the presidential campaign last autumn pleaded no contest on Tuesday to felony vandalism and received three years’ probation.
James Lambert Otis, 53, has admitted using a sledgehammer and pickax to smash the pink terrazzo star and remove the brass medallion from the center of the sidewalk plaque in an act of protest caught on video in the predawn darkness in October.
Otis, a member of the family behind the Connecticut-based Otis Elevator Company, a leading manufacturer of elevators, escalators and moving walkways, was taken into custody the next day.
Acknowledging a history of arrests for various acts of civil disobedience over the years, Otis told reporters after his release from jail that he vandalized Trump’s star to show support for women who had accused Trump of sexual harassment and abuse.
Trump, who became president last month, received his Walk of Fame star in 2007 as then-host of the NBC hit show “The Apprentice,” in which he popularized the catchphrase, “You’re fired.”
He drew widespread condemnation during his White House bid after a 2005 video emerged in which he was heard talking on an open microphone about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman.
Trump shrugged off the recorded comments as “locker-room” banter and denied allegations lodged by several women that he had groped them.
Otis pleaded no contest – the equivalent to a guilty plea in California – to a single count of vandalism on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
He was immediately sentenced to three years of formal probation, plus 20 days of road maintenance work. He was also ordered to pay $3,700 to the Hollywood Historic Trust, which maintains the Walk of Fame, and $700 to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which administers the attraction.
Had he been tried and convicted, Otis faced a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
Trump’s sidewalk star on Hollywood Boulevard has been repaired at a cost of nearly $3,000, according to the chamber.
The Walk of Fame, a state-registered historic landmark and a leading attraction in Los Angeles’ Hollywood district, features stars honoring 2,602 celebrities from five categories of entertainment – film, television, radio, stage and recordings. About 20 to 24 are added each year.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)