Grand theft, drug abuse, assault, armed weapons, lewd acts, car chases and even avoiding the taxman – sounds like a thousand Hollywood movies doesn’t it?
In reality, these just some of the crimes some of Hollywood’s elite can lay claim to being involved with. Amazingly enough, simply because you’ve stood in front of camera, earned millions of dollars, sang a few songs & posed alluringly on red carpets doesn’t automatically mean you’re exempt from the law.
From the intense to the down-right stupid, here’s our list of 10 popular crimes committed by some of the biggest names in showbusiness.
1. James Brown – Theft / Assault / Possessing Firearms / Domestic Violence
Known for generations as not only the hardest working man in show business but also the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown can rightly claim to be one of the most influential musicians of all time from that era. He was also almost certainly the most controversial. At the mere age of 16 he was arrested for theft and spent 3 years in prison – not the ideal start in anyones book.
Things took another wrong turn (literally) in 1988 when he was arrested after an epic high-speed car chase along the South Carolina border. Now why was he so eager to outrun the law you may ask? Well, along with his guitars, instruments, touring equipment and iconic glasses he was also packing unlicensed weapons and various drugs. Once caught, he even decided to assault the police officer, soon after he was promptly convicted and sentenced to a sharp 6 year stint in prison, but got off after only serving 3.
His 3rd wife Adrienne Rodriguez went on to have him arrested on 4 separate occasions during the mid 1980′s & 90′s for domestic violence and essentially beating her senseless.
2. Winona Ryder – Grand Theft
Now I forget things all the time, like where I just put that pen I was using, or those cursed house-keys that always magically disappear when you need them. But unlike Winona Ryder, I don’t stuff thousands of dollars worth of designer merchandise into my bag and then “forget” that I did so as I make my way out of a shop. That was actually her excuse, when caught on camera leaving a store in Beverly Hills and arrested by police.
Poor Winona was then convicted of the “grand theft” which actually makes her crime (shoplifting) seem much more grandiose than it actually was. Whisked off to court, she was given a stern talking to from the judge, forced to return the clothes and was handed 3 years probation.
But if you think she got off lightly, she didn’t – all the major film studios have avoided her like the plague, highlighted by the fact she’s not appeared in a leading film role since her conviction.
3. Wesley Snipes – Failure To Pay Taxes
Ok, so maybe he was too busy killing vampires and saving the world from the apocalypse as Blade? Unfortunately for action star Wesley Snipes, the US tax office didn’t see that as a valid excuse for not filing his income tax returns. So large was the amount he owed / conveniently not paid, that he was slapped with a 3 year prison sentence for his erroneous ways.
He’s currently incarcerated in a medium security federal prison in Pennsylvania, and is scheduled for release on July 19, 2013. The verdict was judged to be overly harsh by many in the media and it quickly put the rest of Hollywood on notice – pay those taxes or face countless nights alone in cell with a 6ft tattooed dude named “Bubba”
4.Scott Weiland – Heroin Possession / D.U.I.
Make no mistake Scott Weiland lead singer in The Stone Temple Pilots / Velvet Revolver is one of the few remaining true rockstars. And lets face it, you can’t be one of those without having some kind of internal demonic turmoil with drugs to help inspire those lyrics and melodies.
In 1995 he was caught red-handed buying crack cocaine and given a years probation. Not that in seemed to matter, a year later he admitted to renting out a hotel for two months and shooting drugs with Courtney Love.
But on this occasion he went on to serve time in jail, alarmingly for heroin possession. After bouncing around numerous rehabilitation programs it seemed Weiland had finally cleaned up his act….that was until 2007 when he was busted for DUI. Again he was imprisoned, this time for 192 hours behind bars, required to complete an 18-moth alcohol program and pay a marginal $2,000 fine. He’s been on probation for 4 years ever since.
5. Martha Stewart – Insider Trading
Don’t be fooled by this photo, Martha Stewart is one bad kitty. Having built an empire around cooking, decorating and homewares, her world came tumbling down in 2004 after she was jailed for insider trading.
After serving a mere 5 months in her orange prison jumpsuit she was released and set about launching a massive PR campaign to rebuild and reclaim her status as an icon for millions of housewives across America.
6. Lil’ Kim – Conspiracy & Perjury
Rewind back to 2005 an era where the Grammy award winning Lil’ Kim was at the very peak of her career. That success was quickly overshadowed though, when she was charged with conspiracy and perjury charges.
It turned out that Lil’ Kim had lied to a grand jury about her friends involvement in a murder which took place at a recording studio in New York.
Rather than being given a slap on the wrists, she was promptly convicted and sentenced to 366 days in prison. When she was released in July 2006 though, hundreds of fans and supporters greeted her at the prison gates.
7. Hugh Grant – Soliciting A Prostitute
Ah Hugh Grant, that British charm, those bright blue-eyes and that cheeky smirk – it’s enough to make women the world over drop to their knees. Which makes it even more bizarre that Hugh Grant was inadvertently busted for paying for that very same treatment back in 1995.
He was charged with “soliciting a prostitute” (called Divine Brown) in the small hours along Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
At the time he was in a long-term relationship with the sultry Elizabeth Hurley, for many celebrities it would probably have been a career-ending incident. But credit to Grant who went on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno during the week of his arrest to talk openly about what had happened. As such, his name and thus career survived, in fact so did his relationship with Hurley, at least momentarily.
8. Lindsay Lohan – Cocaine Possession / D.U.I / Theft
When it comes to the affectionately known LiLo, the headlines tend to write themselves. The wheels first began to fall off in 2007 when she pleaded guilty to cocaine use and “DUI” – she was given a token 24 hours in jail, 10 days of community service and 3 years probation. After failing to attend numerous court-ordered substance abuse treatment classes, Lohan was ordered back behind bars – this time for a mere 84 minutes (WTF right?).
Fast-forward to 2010 and after violating the terms of her probation again, she was sentence to 90 days in jail. But unsurprisingly was released 14 days into the sentence – the reason? There’s a policy of early release of non-violent offenders to reduce jail overcrowding.
But the dramas didn’t stop. Following on from Winona Ryder’s inspirational footsteps, in February 2011, Lohan decided to randomly steal a necklace from a high-end jewellery store. This time she was handed 120 days in prison, 360 hours of community service in a women’s center and rather oddly 120 hours at the L.A. County morgue.
But again (it would be utterly absurd if it wasn’t true) due to “jail overcrowding” Lohan was given the easy route and served the sentence under house arrest and even during that time she failed a random alcohol test. By then literally everyone had stopped caring.
9. George Michael – Engaging In A Lewd Act
To showcase just how massive George Michael is as a musician (his career started in 1980′s in a band called Wham!), he’s one of the most played solo artists on British radio over the past 20 years. But when you have all that money, attention and fame your sense of reality tends to get more than a little skewed.
Like when Michael’s decided to partake in a game of “you show me yours, I’ll show you mind” at a public toilet in Beverly Hills. Far from the male stranger simply obliging whilst thinking “Holy fuck George Michael wants to show me his cock” the stranger in question turned out to be an undercover cop. Michael’s was then arrested and charged for “engaging in a lewd act” fined US$810 and given a token 80 hours of community service.
10. Paris Hilton – Driving Under The Influence
Whilst her crime isn’t as serious as some of the others featured here (Hilton was arrested for driving under the influence) the mass hysteria and media attention it gained nearly eclipsed everyone else on the list.
The entire world eagerly watched as she was taken to jail in floods of tears, the hotel-heiress shorn of her designer outfits & priceless bling and forced to wear prison attire from behind bars of steel. She was released 3 weeks later to thousands of cheering fans, the rest of us just rolled our eyes and sighed in dismay.