January 10, 2017 / 4:51 PM / in a year

Prankster behind 'Hollyweed' sign surrenders to Los Angeles police

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A prankster who altered the iconic “Hollywood” sign in Los Angeles to make it read “Hollyweed” has surrendered to police and been charged with trespassing, a city official said.

Zachary Cole Fernandez, 30, who earlier this month told Vice Media about scaling the sign to alter it, turned himself in on Monday with his attorney at his side, Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu’s office said in a statement.

Fernandez was booked for trespassing, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail, and released with a promise to appear in court on Feb. 15, according to Ryu’s office and jail records. Ryu’s office noted Fernandez did not damage the sign.

On New Year’s Day, residents of Hollywood Hills awoke to find “Hollyweed” staring down at them in four-story, white letters from Los Angeles’ Mount Lee, where a version of the frequently photographed “Hollywood” sign was first erected in 1923.

Fernandez, who used tarps to alter the letters, told People magazine on Monday that he changed the sign to spread a message of “peace and love.”

It came less than two months after California voters approved recreational use of marijuana in the state, despite a federal ban on the drug.

“Whether they’re liberal or conservative, I think everyone saw humor” in the sign change, Fernandez told People.

But Ryu in a statement said, “Pranks of this nature deplete the resources of our valuable public safety personnel.”

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott

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