Articles Posted in Celebrity crime

New York Jets Defensive Captain Shaun Ellis has been charged with marijuana possession, driving without insurance and speeding in Hanover Township, New Jersey. On November 30th, Ellis was driving on Route 287 South at approximately 8:30 AM when he allegedly approached a police cruiser at high speed, passed the vehicle, and was pulled over for speeding. When Hanover Township troopers searched the vehicle, they found an unspecified amount of marijuana, and determined that Mr. Ellis did not have proof of insurance for his vehicle.

Mr. Ellis has issued an apology to Jets fans and the organization through a Jets spokesman, stating that he has “to be responsible for my actions.” Ellis is a 9 year veteran and played in the 2003 Pro Bowl. The Jets have not stated whether they intend to take any disciplinary action against Ellis, noting that the matter will be handled by the NFL, who could suspend Ellis.

Had Ellis been arrested on a New York marijuana possession charge, under article 221 of the New York Penal law, if he were found guilty, the range of penalties is from up to three months in jail for possession of 25 grams (a class B misdemeanor) to a maximum of a 15 year jail sentence if the amount of marijuana was 10 pounds or more (C felony pursuant to Penal Law Section 221.30).

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New York Giants star wide receiver Plaxico Burress is in serious legal jeopardy, facing two counts of illegal weapons possession in New York which could land him in prison for a minimum of 3 1/2 years. This past Saturday, Burress went to the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan, accompanied by teammates Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw. At approximately 1:00 AM, when security guards questioned whether Burress had a weapon, Burress reached for his .40 caliber Glock and accidentally shot himself in the right thigh. He was treated at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital for his injuries and released.

On December 1st, Mr. Burress was booked, handcuffed and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on two counts of illegal weapons possession, pursuant to Section 265 of the New York Penal Law. Apparently, Mr. Burress did not have a permit for the Glock semiautomatic pistol. Burress was released after posting $100,000 bail, and is due back in Court on March 31, 2009. The Giants have suspended Burress without pay, fined him and placed him on the reserve list for a non-football injury, effectively ending his season and in all likelihood, his career with the Giants.

Interestingly, had this incident occurred just two years ago, New York judges had the option of not imposing any jail time on defendants found guilty of illegal possession of a loaded firearm. However, due to pressure from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others, in November of 2006, Governor Pataki signed into law a provision which made illegal possession of a firearm the legal equivalent of robbery or burglary, a C felony that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three and a half years. In the wake of the shooting death of Washington Redskins star defensive back Sean Taylor last year, and the recent robbery of fellow Giants receiver Steven Smith at gunpoint last week, it is probably not surprising that some players feel the need to arm themselves, but this will not aid Burress’ defense in this case.

According to John Caher of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 986 people were arrested last year on the same charges as Burress was, and 90 percent ended up convicted of less serious crimes, including 50% which resulted in misdemeanors or violations.

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Former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick pled guilty last week to a Virginia dog fighting charge, and received a three year suspended sentence, much less than the maximum of 10 years he could have been assessed. One count of cruelty to animals was dropped under the plea deal. Mr. Vick arrived in Court in Sussex, Virginia wearing wrist and ankle shackles along with his gray suit. He apologized to the Court, his family and the fans who had looked up to him as a role model during his years as a star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.

Vick is already serving a 23 month sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas on a 2007 federal conviction of bankrolling a dog fighting operation at his home in Surry County, near Richmond, Virginia. He is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2009, and then will start his three years of probation. The Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, has stated definitively that Vick will never play for the Falcons again. It is unclear if any other NFL team would take a chance on Mr. Vick, especially with all the dog lovers around the United States.

Had Vick been convicted of dog fighting in New York on similar evidence, under the Agriculture & Markets Law, he would have been looking at a felony with up to four years in prison and a fine of potentially $25,000. And New York dog fighting spectators beware–if you bet on dog fighting in New York, you can go to jail for up to one year and/or be fined $1,000.00!

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Aggravated DWI charges have been filed against the 29 year old son of Bryant Gumbel, the host of “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.” Bradley C. Gumbel of Waccabuc was charged on November 16 with New York misdemeanor drunk driving at a traffic stop on Mead Street in Lewisboro when troopers observed him swerve his 2005 Toyota 4-Runner SUV in and out of his lane. When they approached the car, the troopers observed damage to the front passenger side of the vehicle. Gumbel was asleep in the car and the troopers allegedly detected a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

Mr. Gumbel’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.18 percent, which is the initial level of blood alcohol at which authorities can charge Aggravated DWI, a much more serious offense than Driving While Intoxicated, with potential implications including loss of a driver’s license for a year and much more substantial fines than Driving While Intoxicated. The aggravated DWI statute went into effect in November of 2007. DWI can be charged if a driver has a BAC of 0.08 percent or more.

Mr. Gumbel was also charged with operating a vehicle with a suspended registration, a misdemeanor, based upon a suspension of his registration due to lapsed insurance. He is scheduled to be arraigned in due in Lewisboro Town Court on December 1.

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Lillo Brancato Jr., an actor in the movie “A Bronx Tale” and on television in the “Sopranos”, is on trial in a Bronx County murder case, charged with the December 10, 2005 fatal shooting of Daniel Enchautegui, an off-duty police officer from the 40th precinct in the Bronx. The facts are that Brancato, along with his friend, Steve Armento, had been out drinking and doing drugs at a strip club when they left the club to obtain more drugs. Brancato suggested that the two go to the home of Brancato’s friend on Arnow Place in the Bronx. When the friend did not answer the door, (Apparently, Mr. Brancato did not know that his friend had died and the apartment was empty), Brancato kicked the window in, and the two men entered the apartment to look for prescription drugs.

Officer Enchautegui, sleeping next door, was awakened by the breaking glass. He confronted Armento and Brancato, and in the ensuing shootout, Armento shot Officer Enchautegui in the chest with a .357 caliber handgun, killing him. Armento was convicted of the first degree murder of Officer Enchautegui, and was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without parole.

Under New York State law, if another felony is committed during the course of a murder, (in this case, a burglary) then anyone involved in the burglary can be charged with both crimes under the doctrine of felony murder. Therefore, Brancato is being tried for murder even though the evidence is that he did not pull the trigger.

During opening statements in the Brancato trial on November 24, his lawyer revealed his strategy for the defense: that Brancato did not know that Armento had a gun when they went to the friend’s house looking for drugs. When the attorney claimed that Mr. Brancato was also a victim of Armento in addition to Officer Enchautegui, this statement apparently elicited gasps from the officer’s relatives and fellow officers in the courtroom. We will report on this case upon its conclusion.

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Former star actress Mackenzie Phillips of the popular ’70’s TV show “One Day At A Time” pled guilty to cocaine possession charges in Los Angeles this past week and will enter drug treatment. Phillips is the daughter of the legendary founder of the Mamas & The Papas, the late John Phillips, who had his own serious struggles with drug usage, contributing to his untimely death. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office stated that two counts of heroin possession were dismissed, and Ms. Phillips was ordered to finish an 18 month program. Apparently, this is now Phillips 10th stint in drug rehabilitation.

The 48 year old actress was arrested on August 27th at Los Angeles International Airport after police found small amounts of drugs during a security check.

Under the New York Penal Law, had Ms. Phillips been charged in New York with criminal possession of a controlled substance, the penalties range from a Class A-1 felony charge for possession of 8 ounces or more, down to a misdemeanor for the lowest level possession charge (for instance, possession of one joint of marijuana).

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“Newsradio” actor Andy Dick pled guilty to misdemeanor drug and battery charges on October 17, 2008 in Murrieta, California. Dick was arrested on felony sexual battery charges in July when a 17 year old girl accused him of pulling down her top. Riverside County police officers had responded to the scene on a complaint of an intoxicated male outside a restaurant. The actor was ordered to serve three years probation and to wear an alcohol monitor for the next year.

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New York Yankees ace pitcher Joba Chamberlain was arrested on Saturday October 18, 2008 in Lincoln, Nebraska on charges of driving while intoxicated, possession of an open container of alcohol, and speeding. The Nebraska State Patrol stopped Mr. Chamberlain in the early morning hours this past Saturday after observing the Yankee pitcher driving his BMW at an excessive rate of speed. When the trooper approached the vehicle, he saw the open container of alcohol and detected an odor of alcohol. Chamberlain was then arrested on charges of driving under the influence, having an open container of alcohol and speeding.

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Exactly 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, O.J. Simpson was convicted on October 3, 2008 by a Las Vegas jury of all 12 counts in thearmed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers. The jury reached its verdict after 12 days of testimony from 22 witnesses. Mr. Simpson did not testify in his own defense, the same strategy he employed in his murder trial over thirteen years ago. In addition to witness testimony from co-defendants, the jury heard hours of secretly recorded and profanity laced audiotapes.

The charges stemmed from a September 13, 2007 incident in which Simpson and five other men, two with firearms, stormed the Las Vegas hotel room of sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Al Beardsley to retrieve mementos such as signed Pete Rose baseballs, Joe Montana lithographs, game balls and plaques which Simpson claimed were his. One co-defendant testified that Simpson instructed him to “bring a gun and look menacing” before they entered the hotel room. Simpson later denied to police that he knew that any of his accomplices were armed.

Simpson was convicted all 12 charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit burglary and kidnapping. He was denied bail and taken into immediate custody. Simpson’s co-defendant Clarence Stewart was also found guilty on all 12 charges. The 61 year old ex-football star could face life in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Jackie Glass on December 5. His lawyers have vowed that they will appeal.

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Heather Locklear, one of the stars of TV shows as “T.J. Hooker”, “Dynasty”, “Melrose Place” and “Spin City”, has been charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance in a suburb of Santa Barbara, California. Ms. Locklear was stopped on September 28, 2008 by a California Highway Patrol officer after she was reported driving erratically as she exited a parking lot. The officer then observed Locklear’s car parked on a state highway and blocking traffic. When she was questioned, the officer made the determination that Locklear was “under the influence of something.” She was transported to the local police station in Montecito, California, tested for alcohol and drugs, and charged with driving under the influence of prescription medication.

Later that day, Ms. Locklear was released from custody. Her arraignment date was not immediately announced.

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