Celebrity picture agency X17 has been running in respectable media circles lately. In the past month it has been the subject of a cover story in the Atlantic and a profile in Radar. Its client list now includes names like CNN. But X17's history, which includes allegations of hiring ex gang members and undocumented immigrants, is coming back to haunt the agency. Paparazzo Alison Silva, pictured, said he was badly beaten by three photographers working for X17 while parked a block from singer Britney Spears' house. "You should not be here. Only X17 gets these shots," he was allegedly told prior to sustaining "blunt head trauma" and a broken nose and being rushed to the emergency room. Three witnesses called 911, the LA police investigated and, according to MTV News, the alleged assailants are expected to be taken into custody Monday. X17 responded by not bothering to deny anything:

Reached for comment by MTV News, X17 co-owners Francois and Brandy Navarre initially declined comment because they have not been served with the suit, but when asked about the police matter, they said that the photographers are not employees, but freelancers, and therefore are not under contract. "I don't think the suit against us will hold up," Brandy said. "They give me their pictures but whatever they do on their own is their own business," Francois said.

Respectable news outlets like CNN and ABC, plus the usual assortment of celebrity media like Us Weekly, keep X17 supplied with licensing money. (All are clients, according to the Atlantic.) That's less likely to continue if the clients think they are bankrolling a gang.

MTV: Paparazzo Sues X17 Agency After Alleged Assault While Covering Britney Spears