The news cycle includes a steady rotation of celebs who’ve done something or other to warrant their arrest. Usually these crimes just result in a memorable mug shot and a tough week or two for said star’s PR team. However, there are some famous faces who’ve had to pay a much bigger price for their misdeeds. Read on to see who served a significant chunk of time behind bars.
Wesley Snipes made a big name for himself in the ’90s, starring in hit movies such as New Jack City (1991) and White Men Can’t Jump (1992), but the U.S. government eventually realized it wasn’t getting enough of that sweet, sweet Hollywood moola from Snipes, and he was charged with income tax evasion in 2006.
According to CNN, Snipes was convicted for three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns in 2008 and served a 3-year prison sentence before his release in February 2013. We can only assume Snipes went and hired himself a better accountant straight away.
Home Improvement (1991-99) star Tim Allen needed life improvement back in the ’70s, when he was busted for felony drug trafficking. According to The Washington Times, Allen got caught at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport in Michigan with a whole bunch of cocaine in 1978. He reportedly served two years and four months in jail before getting paroled.
The experience was obviously life-altering for Allen. “It put me in a position of great humility,” he told Closer magazine, “and I was able to make amends to friends and family and refocus my life on setting and achieving goals.”
In his decades-long career as a boxing promoter, Don King has been involved with everyone who’s anyone in the fighting world, but it turns out, he has a pretty insane history of fighting in his own right. In fact, King has reportedly killed two people.
In 1954, “Donald the Kid” reportedly shot and killed a man named Hillary Brown at a gambling joint in Cleveland. “King said it was self-defence. The court called it justifiable homicide,” reported The Independent.
According to The New York Times book review of Jack Newfield’s Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King, the money man “fatally kicked and pistol-whipped” a man named Sam Garrett “on a Cleveland sidewalk in full view of bystanders” in 1966. “Garrett’s last words were, ‘Don, I’ll pay you the money.'” A judge “with mob connections overruled a jury’s verdict of murder; [King] served 3 years 11 months on a manslaughter conviction” before receiving apardon from the governor of Ohio.
A 77-year-old King told The Independent in 2009, “I recognised my sins, brother! I am confessed. But God didn’t come to save the righteous. He came to save the sinners.”
Richard Hatch is best known as the (sometimes nude) winner of the first season of Survivor. Unfortunately for him, the million dollar prize ended up becoming something of a burden, as Hatch was sent to jail for nine months in 2011 when a judge found him guilty of not paying taxes on his winnings.
That sentence was on top of the three years Hatch had already spent in prison for tax evasion between 2006 and 2009. According to Forbes, he survived a total of 51 months in the big house on charges of tax evasion.
Guys, it’s not complicated. Pay your taxes.
Former NFL running back O.J. Simpson spent some time sitting in the slammer during his 1995 double-murder trial, before he was found not-guilty of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He later spent nearly nine years in jail on charges related to an armed robbery in Las Vegas in 2007.
Simpson faced nine to 33 years in prison for the robbery conviction, but according to CNN, “The Juice” received some preferential treatment while incarcerated due to his notoriety and even cleaned up in the jail’s fantasy football league. After a hearing in which he called himself a “good guy” and claimed “to have spent a conflict-free life” (ummm…what?), Simpson was paroled in July 2017 and officially releasedOct. 1, 2017 with plans to settle in Vegas.
On Halloween 2007, rapper Da Brat reportedly got into a heated argumentwith a waitress at an Atlanta nightclub and hit her in the face with a bottle of rum. Da Brat (real name Shawntae Harris) pled guiltyto felony aggravated assault and was sentenced to three years in prison, seven years of probation, and 200 hours of community service. She served the time, and then in 2014, a judge ruled that she also had to pay the victim (who sustained permanent scarring to her face) $6.4 million.
Lillo Brancato Jr.
If actor Lillo Brancato Jr.’s face looks familiar, you may recognize him from his roles in The Sopranos (1999-2007) and A Bronx Tale (1993), or you may recall that in 2005, he was involved in a robbery-gone-wrong in the Bronx that resulted in his associate killing an off-duty police officer. Yeah, that.
Boxer Mike Tyson is, in a word, terrifying. On top of erratic and violent behavior both in and out of the ring, he has also spent a significant amount of time in prison.
In March 1992, Tyson was convicted of rape, and received a six-year sentence (and, notably, the support of future U.S. president Donald Trump). He ended up serving three years, which, if his autobiographyUndisputed Truth is, indeed, indisputable, were fairly non-punitive. In the book (via the Daily Mail), the boxer claims he had “so much sex that I was too tired to even to go the gym and work out… I’d just stay in my cell all day.”
Yeah, that’s TMI.
I think we can all agree that disgraced record producer Phil Spector’s mug shot is probably one of the creepiest of all time, but creepier still is the fact that in 2009, he was found guilty of murdering actress Lana Clarkson. He allegedly shot Clarkson in his California mansion in February 2003, though he maintained his innocence throughout the trial. The conviction came with a jail sentence of 19 years to life, which Spector has reportedly been serving in Stockton, Calif. According to Page Six, he’ll be up for parole in 2028, at age 88.
Charles S. Dutton
Charles S. Dutton has had quite a long and prolific acting career, appearing in film and TV since 1985. Prior to that, “Roc” also had quite the prolific criminal life.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Dutton served hard time stemming from sentences for manslaughter, illegal possession of a firearm, and acting as the ringleader of a prison riot. After his parole, he really turned things around, eventuallygraduating from the Yale School of Drama.
Shelley Malil was a cast member of the light-hearted 2005 comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but his life took a decidedly dark turn when he was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for the attempted premeditated murder of his ex-girlfriend and assault with a deadly weapon. According to ABC News, the charges stemmed from a 2008 incident in which Malil allegedly attacked Kendra Beebe at her home in suburban San Diego, stabbing her 20 times with a kitchen knife.
Malil told the court (via People), that he “had no idea” he had stabbed Beebe. “I still can’t believe the knife I was holding was responsible for all those injuries,” he said. The actor has been serving his time at Donovan State Prison in California.
The Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, the hardest working man in show business—regardless of how you know and remember the late singer today, James Brown was once known as inmate No. 155413 at South Carolina’s State Park Correctional Center, where he served three years out of a six-year sentence for brandishing a gun at an insurance company and then leading cops on a car chase in 1987. According to The New York Times, Brown was found guilty of carrying a deadly weapon at a public gathering, attempting to flee a police officer, and driving under the influence of drugs
He got out in 1991, but alas, Brown apparently couldn’t help himself and essentially reenacted his original crime. According to Time, he led police on another car chase in South Carolina after discharging a rifle at his home in 1998. This time, Brown managed to avoid round two in the slammer; he was sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program instead.
Actor Danny Trejo often plays tough guys onscreen, and he certainly has the real life story to back the persona.
According to FOX News, a young Trejo spent 11 years in and out of jail for various crimes, but he reached a turning point in 1968, when Trejo and others were accused of starting a prison riot that injured guards. “We went to the hole and were facing the gas chamber,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “And I remember asking God, ‘Let me die with dignity. Just let me say goodbye. And if you do, I will say your name every day, and I will do whatever I can for my fellow man.'”
When Trejo was released the following year, he remembered his spiritual promise,embracing sobriety and helping at-risk youth.
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