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Crime Plays

Sean Combs, Robert Downey Jr., and other cases of arrested development

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Everybody makes mistakes, and ’99 has the rap sheets to prove it. Initially, Sean ”Puffy” Combs thought appearing nailed to a cross in a music video would be cool—until his religious adviser convinced him it was blasphemous. ”Sean has a strong spiritual sense,” recalled Rev. Hezekiah Walker. ”I told him there were things that could damage him with the church.” So, spiritual sense tingling, Puffy went to an exec responsible for getting the video aired and reportedly did some damage (later pleading guilty to harassment). The courts sentenced him to a one-day anger-management course and, apparently, confiscated his ability to sell his Forever album.

Puffy got off easy compared with Robert Downey Jr., who was sentenced to three years in prison for violating probation after flunking seven drug-rehab programs since ’96. ”It’s like I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth, with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of gunmetal,” Downey emoted. After all, Matthew McConaughey only spent nine hours in jail before posting bail on the far more serious crime of playing bongos naked in front of a window (charges were dropped).

With no drums available, Veronica’s Closet‘s Wallace Langham instead beat on a gay reporter who, he says, ogled his girlfriend’s tattoos. (He denies it was a hate crime. ) Either way, poorly managed anger. But at least he’s no pansy.

Not that violence is the only expression of manhood. Oliver Stone preferred tooling around drunk in his Mustang. Police searching the car found muscle relaxants and hashish — Stone’s anger-management system. This echoes late ’98, when cops who searched Coolio’s car found an illegal handgun — also not recommended for anger management.

Coolio, who this year changed his plea to no contest, had been stopped for driving on the wrong side of the street, the same reason Andy Dick was stopped. Of course, Dick was driving on the side where the utility poles are — you know, the outside — and it wasn’t the police who stopped him, it was a utility pole. Dick ”left to find a phone” (according to his publicist) and was caught carrying cocaine and marijuana.

In more stationary crimes, Athena Rolando, 19, was found asleep in Brad Pitt‘s bedroom. ”The suspect was wearing a blue hat, green sweatshirt, black sweatpants, and tennis shoes belonging to Mr. Pitt,” said the LAPD. ”The suspect reportedly adorned herself with Mr. Pitt’s clothing because she was cold.” And wanted to play tennis.

The list of celeb run-ins with the law is long. There were at least four between January and March — and that’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard alone (none of the cases have come to trial; many of the charges have been dropped). In fact, so many people were arrested this year, even has-beens who couldn’t get arrested were getting arrested. 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell (he pled not guilty to aggravated battery), Gary Coleman (unpaid fine), even Leif Garrett (attempting to purchase heroin).

Finally, Roz Kelly, Happy Days‘ Pinky Tuscadero, arrested in ’98, was sentenced in October to three years’ probation for firing a shotgun at her neighbor’s house in retaliation for a noisy car alarm. Sometimes, expressing anger is just more fun than managing it.

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