Conservative activist James O'Keefe apologized and agreed to pay ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera $100,000 to settle a lawsuit over illegal recordings that cost Vera his job. O'Keefe said he "regrets any pain" he caused Vera when he brought him into a media war against liberal causes. According to a March 8 article in the Los Angeles Times, O'Keefe entered an ACORN office in National City and conducted a hidden camera interview with Vera.
He was wearing a suit and tie when he filmed the video, but O'Keefe edited the results to make it look as if he wore a stereotypical "pimp" outfit to the meeting. He also edited the video to make it appear that Vera agreed to help O'Keefe smuggle underage girls into the U.S. for prostitution.
In truth, Vera immediately contacted police and reported O'Keefe for making an illegal proposal, but it was too late. ACORN fired him in 2009 before losing government funding and going out of business. The State of California charged O'Keefe with illegally recording the incident, but gave him full immunity in exchange for the full, unedited videos. When the unedited videos reached the news media, O’Keefe’s tactics were finally exposed.
One of San Diego’s top criminal defense and civil rights attorneys, Eugene Iredale, represents Vera. The lawsuit cited California law, which prohibits surreptitious recording of a person's voice and image.
O'Keefe's attorney downplayed the settlement and apology by calling it a "nuisance settlement". Michael Madigan claims that his client has a promising investigative journalism career ahead of him.
Hannah Giles was O'Keefe's co-conspirator. She made an undisclosed settlement with Vera last summer, according to a March 8 article in The Raw Story.
In 2010, Governor Jerry Brown was California's Attorney General and then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered an investigation into the incident. Brown decided to give O'Keefe immunity from state prosecution. However, Brown also decided that the victims could file private lawsuits for recording a confidential conversation.