Fame can be a double-edged sword. Some people can handle it and take it all in stride and become influential and motivational individuals. But quite often, it’s the opposite. It brings out the vices and darker sides of people, and we end up seeing their destruction and implosion take place before our very eyes. Here are ten celebs that had to do jail time for various offenses after they were already in the public eye.
10 Tom Sizemore
Enjoying success and acclaim in Hollywood can be both a blessing and curse. Early in his career, Sizemore gained much praise for his roles in hit films like Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan. But his vices got the best for him, and he suffered many years of drug addiction. In 2007, while he was still on probation for a prior drug addiction, he was nabbed by police for possession of methamphetamines and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. However the sentence was reduced to nine months because he had already served 213 days in county jail.
9 Robert Downey Jr.
Before Robert Downey Jr. was one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and starring in huge blockbusters like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, he went through a really rough patch between 1996 and 2001. In ‘96, when he was already an established star, he was arrested for being caught with cocaine, heroin and a handgun in Los Angeles. In the following year, he ended up missing a court-ordered drug test and had to spend four months in the county jail. His woes weren’t over yet. In 1999, he missed another mandatory drug test and spent another year at the California Substance Abuse Facility and Corcoran State Prison. It seemed that last jail bid straightened him out and he hasn’t been back to the clinker since.
In 2007, when T.I.’s rap and acting careers were really starting to flourish on a major level, he suffered a big setback that was all his own doing. In the Fall of 2007, a couple of hours before the BET awards in which he was scheduled to perform, the rapper was apprehended by the Feds for being in the possession of a slew of firearms. The illicit arsenal comprised of three unregistered machine guns and a pair of silencers. In 2009, he was sentenced to a year in jail, house arrest and several hours of community service. That wasn’t the end of his jail problems. In 2010, he was stopped in Los Angeles while driving with his wife. Drugs were found in the vehicle, and he was sentenced to another 11 months for violation of his probation.
7 Lauryn Hill
Last year, Lauryn Hill spent 3 months in jail for tax evasion charges. Truth be told, Ms. Hill has had a tough go over it ever since she broke through with her debut album Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998. Her marriage to Bob Marley’s son Rohan left her emotionally and mentally unstable. After their eventual split, she never really got back to her musical peak. Her 90-day jail stay was for failing to pay her New Jersey taxes for over $1 million in income that had accumulated since 2005.
6 Fat Joe
What is it about rappers and not paying their taxes? It probably has something to do with all the show money they get for live performances. Especially when it’s smaller venues, these artists get paid in cash and they are just not used to taxed income. In 2013, Fat Joe was sentenced to four months in prison, in addition to a $15,000 dollar fine for tax evasion. His tax crime was defaulting on $718,038 in back taxes from 2007-2010. He served his time and now the NYC-to-Miami transplant is back in the studio making music again.
5 Paul McCartney
Whenever we talk about Paul McCartney, the images that come to mind are those of the Beatles and the British invasion, and even the accomplishments of his daughter Stella. But just like all of us, Sir Paul has experienced some dark times in his life as well. One of those bleak periods in his life was in 1980 when he spent nine days in a Japanese prison cell. He was traveling through Narita airport with his new band called Wings when custom officials found 8oz of marijuana in his suitcase. He was held for nine harrowing days but he could have been potentially sentenced to seven years of hard labor. When his release was negotiated, he was deported from the country and he mentioned in interviews later that he’d never been happier to get back to the UK.
4 Wesley Snipes
We all know Wesley Snipes as the Hollywood action star in movies like White Men Can’t Jump, Passenger 57, Jungle Fever and Blade – but did you also know that in 2010, Snipes was convicted to spend 3 years in jail for tax evasion? The charges were that he filed a false tax refund claim for over $4 million dollars and he also made a false tax refund claim for over $7.3 million in 1997. Wesley Snipes served his time and he was released in April of 2013. Snipes is still continuing with his movie career and he’s stated to appear in the Sly Stallone’s Expendables 3 movie due out this August.
3 Michelle Rodriguez
Actress Michelle Rodriguez from the hit television show Lost and The Fast and the Furious is known as quite the party girl in Hollywood. She loves having a good time and she was actually rumored to be in a relationship with bad girl model Cara Delevingne. In September of 2007, she was sentenced to 180 days in Los Angeles for parole violation. The initial charges stemmed from drunk-driving and hit-and-run offenses she committed in 2005.
2 Christian Slater
Sometimes fame can be really difficult to deal with, especially when you’re young, good-looking and making a lot of money. That was the situation that actor Christian Slater found himself in. In 1998, he was just 29 years old and already a big name in tinsel town. But he ended up making some wrong choices and one of those led to him beating up his girlfriend and fighting with police when they found him screaming incoherently in a hallway. He was eventually sentenced to a 90-day jail term. The prosecuting judge granted him one leniency though – Slater was allowed to start his sentence the day after the Hollywood premiere of his new movie Hard Rain.
1 Fiona Apple
Even some of the most ardent fans of Fiona Apple know that she can be an emotional train wreck. There was the time at the 1997 MTV VMA awards when she made the following outburst: “The world is bullshit, and you shouldn’t model your life on what we think is cool.” So in late 2012, not too many people were surprised when she spent a night in jail in Texas for being caught with trace amounts of hashish and marijuana. It’s a good thing she only spent a night in the clink because there’s no doubt that a personality type like Fiona wouldn’t do very well behind bars.