Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mildred Escobedo reduced the felony charge against Adam Friedman at a preliminary hearing on Aug. 1. The 37-year-old Friedman is the son of Beverly Hills City Councilmember Lester Friedman. The younger Friedman now faces two misdemeanor counts stemming from his alleged creation of a fake Instagram account in the name of Councilmember Sharona Nazarian in April.
Friedman’s lawyer argued that the Instagram account amounted to nothing more than political satire. Nonetheless, after hearing testimony from law enforcement and Nazarian herself, Escobedo found that the account had been created with the intent to harm Nazarian’s campaign. She ruled that probable cause existed to hold Adam Friedman over for trial on the misdemeanors. The probable cause standard is significantly lower than that needed for an actual conviction, however.
A statement from the Public Integrity Division of the LA District Attorney’s Office to the Courier noted:
“We are pleased that a judge found probable cause to allow us to move forward with the criminal prosecution of Mr. Friedman. This political corruption case spotlights the ongoing need to protect the integrity of the election process at every level of government. We believed this conduct represented a serious breach of the state’s identity theft laws but respect the judge’s decision to reduce that criminal charge to a misdemeanor.”
The next date in the case is Aug. 23 for a pretrial hearing.