Law & Order
2:59 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

'Keith Haring's Ghost' Will Not Face Jail Time, Conviction

A utility box painting by 'Keith Haring's Ghost' in Jacksonville's San Marco neighborhood in 2013. The art, now known to have been painted by Chip Southworth, has since been removed.
Credit Melissa Ross / WJCT

The case of the artist known as Keith Haring's Ghost, who was arrested for painting utility boxes in Jacksonville, was resolved on Monday without a conviction according to his attorney.

Kevin "Chip" Southworth, who was charged with a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief, entered a no-contest plea and the judge withheld adjudication, meaning no criminal conviction will appear on his record.

Attorney Reid Hart said the judge ordered Southworth to pay the city of Jacksonville $778 to cover damage to city property plus $300 in court costs and to perform 50 hours of community service. Southworth had already exceeded the community service requirements through volunteer work for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Players by the Sea Theatre.

Kevin "Chip" Southworth
Credit Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

Southworth was originally charged with a felony, but Hart said the State Attorney's Office lowered the charged after determining the amount of damage caused to the utility boxes was less than $1,000.

The artist, well-known in his own right locally, began the mystery street art campaign in late 2013.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office his graffiti appeared on 11 traffic control boxes owned by the City of Jacksonville.

Southworth told WJCT's Melissa Ross in January that he felt inspired to start painting after the Jacksonville City Council failed to enact an updated Human Rights Ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

He adapted Haring's artwork, he said, because of its meaning. The late Keith Haring's work often spoke to social justice and individual freedom.

You can follow Karen Feagins on Twitter @karenfeagins.