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Downey sentenced to prison for three years

Downey

Web posted on:
Thursday, August 05, 1999 3:47:30 PM EST

MALIBU, California (CNN) -- Oscar-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr., 34, has been sentenced to three years in a California state prison for violating the terms of his probation.

Downey was convicted on a drug charge in 1996. Police who pulled him over for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway reported finding cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his vehicle. He was sentenced to probation and 100 hours of community service.

A month later, he was found passed out on a child's bed in a neighbor's home. Three days later, he was arrested for leaving a recovery center. He was sentenced then to three years' probation after pleading no-contest to drug and weapons charges.

Municipal Court Judge Lawrence Mira, who presided over Downey's original case in 1996, said on Thursday that he's given the actor many chances to rehabilitate himself. But, he said, Downey has manipulated doctors and psychiatrists who have examined him.

"I don't think we have any alternative," the judge said. "We have used them all."

'Whatever decision you make'

In June, Downey told his probation officer that he was using drugs again in violation of his probation. At the time, Mira ordered Downey into a drug rehabilitation program and told him his long-term future would be settled at Thursday's hearing.

Defense attorney Robert Shapiro argued that Downey should again receive probation and be allowed to continue therapy at a drug-treatment center.

"This is a person who is suffering from a disease he can't control," Shapiro said. "Even the dire threat of jail or prison is not enough of a deterrent.".

Downey also pleaded for another chance to rehabilitate himself, although he told the judge he understands why the court's patience had run out. Asking for therapy at a drug-treatment center called Impact, he said, "It's been the right program at the right time for me. I feel whatever decision you make will be the right one. ... But I feel a transition has happened to me."

Mira said his overriding concern is for the safety of the public. Downey received 201 days' credit for time served. He must pay a $600 restitution fee.

Downey went straight back into custody Thursday at the Los Angeles County Jail for processing. Officials say that within a week, he should be in state prison.

Downey's Academy Award nomination was for his work in the title role of the 1992 film "Chaplin." Other film credits include "Restoration" (1995); "Less Than Zero" (1987); "Natural Born Killers" (1994); "One Night Stand" (1997); "Two Girls and a Guy" (1997); and "U.S. Marshals" (1998).

He has completed two more films for upcoming release: "Bowfinger" (scheduled to open August 13) and "Wonder Boys."


RELATED STORIES:
Review: Downey scores with 'Two Girls and a Guy'
May 26, 1998
Appeals court rules against latest Downey furlough
March 6, 1998
Heroin use on the rise
February 22, 1998
Probation revoked for Robert Downey Jr.
October 17, 1997

RELATED SITES:
Mr. Showbiz: Robert Downey Jr.
Internet Movie Database: Robert Downey Jr.
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