If the tabloids in supermarket checklanes are any indication, we love celebrities behaving badly, and love them paying a price for said bad behavior even more.
There’s a certain bit of schadenfreude that occurs when we hear about someone finally getting busted for charges that would send the rest of us to the slammer for a long time.
Granted, the punishment is usually far from fitting the crime, but it’s better than nothing.
When compiling the list, we skipped the garden-variety driving under the influence arrests and minor drug charges, as the list would be miles long, not to mention a bit boring.
We also passed on the more serious cases (you won’t see O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector here), as those are notorious enough already.
From Jim Morrison’s famed Miami meltdown to Bill Gates’ lead foot to Martha Stewart’s infamous ImClone trading scandal, we’ve got enough celebrity crime to fill our own tabloid, and you won’t have to make that guilty purchase.
Additional reporting by Justin Andress.
Chris Brown – assault
No doubt you’ve already figured out the inspiration for this list was Chris Brown’s arrest for felony assault in Washington, D.C. last weekend after punching a man who jumped into a photo Brown was taking with another fan.
While we hoped this incident would finally be the one to send him to a behind-bars time-out, that was not to be. The charges against Brown and his bodyguard, who also took part in the brawl, were reduced to misdemeanors earlier this week.
Brown has a long history of anger issues, the most notable being the Grammy-night beatdown on then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.
Amazingly, Brown only received five years’ probation for that incident.
Robert Downey, Jr. – drugs
Now the poster boy for the Hollywood comeback, Robert Downey, Jr. has also found himself on the wrong side of the law on more than one occasion.
Early in his career, the man in the iron mask made a habit of garnering critical praise in films like “Chaplin.” When he started getting busted for heroin possession, however, things started spiraling out of control for the star.
Over the course of what basically amounted to an 8-year binge, Downey, Jr. was arrested for possession of controlled substances (you name it, he was caught with it), trespassing, driving under the influence and possession of a handgun. On top of that, he also made a habit of missing drug tests, court dates and parole hearings. Things were so bad at one point, that not even the team who defended O.J. Simpson was able to get him acquitted.
After more drug rehab than Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes put together, Downey has seemed to come out cleaner on the other side. His trademark wit (and a string of incredible performances) have helped him regain his status among American filmgoers.
Not an easy feat, no matter who you are.
Reporting by Justin Andress.
Martha Stewart – insider trading
Before Dec. 27, 2001, doyenne of domesticity Martha Stewart was known more for home decorating tips and fancy recipes than anything criminal.
That all changed after the ImClone insider trading scandal went public.
Drug company ImClone was seeking government approval of a cancer drug in October of that year. Founder Sam Waksal, a good friend of Stewart’s, got a tip Dec. 26 that the drug wouldn’t be approved, so he dumped his company shares and passed on the tip to his daughter.
The day after, Stewart sold off her ImClone shares. On Dec. 28, the FDA went public with its decision, and ImClone shares fell 16% on the first trading day after the news.
Stewart was indicted for securities fraud and obstruction of justice in June 2003, and found guilty of insider trading in 2004.
Stewart received a sentence of five months in prison, five months of house arrest and two years of probation, along with a $30,000 fine.
“M. Diddy,” as Stewart says she was called in prison, did her time at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, aka “Camp Cupcake” in Alderson, W. Va.
During her stay, she worked on crafts, did yoga, harvested dandelions and created microwave recipes.
Following her release, Stewart set about rebuilding her empire, forming partnerships with Macy’s, E & J Gallo Winery and Wal-Mart. She also created two TV shows and dabbled in acting, with guest appearances on “Ugly Betty” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”
Mark Wahlberg – assault
“Marky Mark” Wahlberg built up quite the rap sheet with the Boston Police Department in his younger days, starting with a coke habit at 13, racial harassment at 15, and ending with an assault conviction at 16 for attacking a Vietnamese refugee with a metal hook in 1988 during a robbery spree.
That attack resulted in a two-year sentence at Boston’s Deer Island House of Correction; Wahlberg served 45 days.
Seeing the guys he looked up to locked up alongside him made Wahlberg reconsider his life choices.
“When I got to jail and saw all these guys I grew up with and emulated, it was a wake-up call. I should have gotten a long time before,” he said in a 2001 Vanity Fair interview.
Brother Donnie, who was in New Kids on the Block, helped Mark make some connections in the music business, wrote some hip-hop songs and hooked him up with the Funky Bunch. The group’s album went platinum, and that taste of fame kept Wahlberg out of trouble.
He began acting in the mid-‘90s, but broke into the big time in “Boogie Nights” as Dirk Diggler, and never looked back.
Matthew McConaughey – resisting arrest and drug possession
Matthew McConaughey did his part to keep Austin weird back in 1999 with some bongo drumming in the buff while enjoying some weed. Austin police, however, weren’t too impressed.
McConaughey and “Dazed and Confused” costar Cole Hauser were enjoying an evening in at McConaughey’s home when the cops, acting on a neighbor’s noise complaint, went to investigate.
Upon arrival, the APD officers got an earful of “very loud music” and an eyeful of a “nude, white male dancing and playing bongo drums,” according to the police report.
After spying marijuana paraphernalia through another window and being unable to get the occupants’ attention, the officers entered the home to be greeted by a very intoxicated McConaughey shouting obscenities.
McConaughey was arrested and booked on suspicion of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting transportation, aka resisting arrest.
The drug charges were dropped, and McConaughey was out the next morning after posting $1,000 bond. He later pled guilty to disturbing the peace and was fined a grand total of $50.
James Brown – drug use, waving a shotgun around at an insurance convention
The “Hardest Working Man in Show Business” did some hard time after a bizarre series of events Sept. 24, 1988 in Augusta, Georgia.
The Godfather of Soul, high on PCP and packing heat, interrupted an insurance seminar going on next door to his office to complain about attendees using his bathroom.
After police were summoned, Brown took off in his truck and led the cops on a wild chase through South Carolina and back into Georgia. He finally surrendered after ending up in a ditch after officers shot out three of the truck’s tires.
Brown received a six-year, six-month sentence for aggravated assault and failing to stop for a police officer, among other charges. He was released after serving three years.
Drug and domestic violence charges followed Brown throughout the rest of his life, with his last arrest in 2004. Brown passed away Dec. 25, 2006.
Hugh Grant – picking up a prostitute
Was it divine intervention that led Hugh Grant to pick up prostitute Divine Brown in Los Angeles in 1995?
Brown certainly thinks so, calling the $50 encounter in Grant’s BMW “God’s work” in a 2010 Daily Mail profile.
Grant and Brown were busted by L.A. police after they noticed the brake lights on the BMW flashing on and off.
Grant was fined $1,180, placed on two years’ summary probation, and ordered to complete an AIDS education program, while Brown was fined $1,150 for violating parole and sentenced to 180 days in jail. She was also ordered to attend an AIDS class and perform five days of community service.
Brown told the Daily Mail she made more than a million dollars from TV appearances and media interviews following the incident. She now lives in suburban Atlanta.
While Grant’s fame also skyrocketed after the incident, it also eventually cost him his relationship at the time with model/actress Elizabeth Hurley. The two split in 2000, but remain close friends.
Mel Gibson – driving drunk, alleged domestic violence
Mad Mel’s anger management issues made headline news after his arrest for driving under the influence in 2006.
The arrest might have just been a quick joke or two on late-night TV if it weren’t for the tirade Gibson unleashed on the officer arresting him.
He started complaining about how his life was over and how his wife would leave him, according to a police transcript of the arrest, but it quickly escalated into a fumbled attempt at fleeing the officer capped by an incredibly profane anti-Semitic rant.
That wasn’t the last we heard from Mad Mel, either.
After a tumultuous split with then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in 2010, several recordings of Gibson fighting with Grigorieva over the phone came out, filled with racist and sexist comments, along with threats to burn their house down and bury her in a rose garden.
Domestic violence charges were brought against Gibson afterward, but were dropped after he plead no contest to misdemeanor battery.
Jim Morrison – inciting a riot, resisting arrest and public lewdness
The Doors singer was no stranger to law enforcement, having been previously arrested for assault, inciting a riot and resisting arrest, but the infamous “Miami incident” of March 1, 1969 was what put him on our list.
A combination of all-day drinking, missed flights and a restless crowd was the match that sparked one of the most infamous onstage flameouts in rock history.
Morrison started off the performance by going back and forth between singing, cursing and rambling about revolution. The beyond-capacity crowd got angry and started shouting insults, resulting in Morrison asking the audience if they wanted to see his naughty bits.
Whether Morrison actually did expose himself and attempt to incite a riot afterward is still up for debate. What wasn’t in doubt was the resulting outrage in Miami and the state of Florida.
A few days later, the Florida state attorney’s office issued six warrants for Morrison, ranging from felony lewd behavior to misdemeanor charges for public intoxication, open profanity and indecent exposure.
Morrison was convicted of the open profanity and indecent exposure charges, but died in Paris in 1971 while the convictions were being appealed.
Morrison was posthumously pardoned for the incident by then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010.
Ozzy Osbourne – Peeing on the Alamo
When you gotta go, you gotta go, even if the “where” involved in that scenario is the Alamo.
Legend has it that on Feb. 19, 1982, the Prince of Darkness relieved himself on the Alamo in the middle of the day, completely sloshed and wearing future wife Sharon’s dress.
Although not quite true (Osbourne actually whizzed on the Alamo Cenotaph, a statue across the street that honors the Texans killed in the Battle of the Alamo), the faux pas was enough to get him banned from San Antonio for the next ten years. You don’t mess with Texas historical monuments.
After a $10,000 donation to Alamo caretakers the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Osbourne was pardoned.
Bill Gates – driving really poorly
When Microsoft was based in New Mexico in the mid-‘70s, founder Bill Gates was driven to build more than a software empire.
Gates was arrested twice in Albuquerque for speeding in his Porsche 911: in 1975 for also driving without a license, and in 1977 for running a red light and again driving without a license (also gracing the world with this awesome mug shot).
According to a Time magazine profile, Gates loved to race his 911 in the New Mexico desert. He also racked up three speeding tickets while moving Microsoft from Albuquerque to Seattle.
That wasn’t the end of Gates’ driving difficulties. In 1989, he was arrested in California on suspicion of driving drunk, but that charge was later reduced.
Marilyn Manson – sexual misconduct
Creepy singer Marilyn Manson’s had his share of legal troubles, from former band members’ royalty suits to assault and battery accusations. His most notorious moment came in 2001 at a show in suburban Detroit, Mich.
A security guard working the show accused the singer of spitting on his head and rubbing his pelvis on the guard’s head and neck as he stood at the front to keep people from rushing the stage. To make things even more “ew,” Manson was wearing a G-string at the time.
Manson was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree and assault and battery. An Oakland County judge reduced the charges to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Manson pleaded no contest and paid a $4,000 fine.
The guard, Joshua Kessler, sued Manson, but the suit was settled out of court.
Lindsay Lohan – a little of everything
Where do we begin?
Since her first of two arrests in 2007 for DUI and cocaine possession, Lindsay Lohan has racked up criminal charges at a record pace.
Amazingly, Lohan managed to stay out of trouble with the law until July 2010, when she violated her probation and was sentenced to 90 days, actually serving only two weeks. Two months later, she was hauled back in after failing a drug test.
2011 had barely started when Lohan was nabbed for shoplifting a $2,500 necklace, which was downgraded to a misdemeanor. She also got 120 days in county jail and 480 hours of community service for violating her probation from the 2007 DUI.
Later that year, she was booked again for violating probation.
2012 was another busy year for Lohan and law enforcement, with traffic accidents, assault and a blowout fight with mom/enable Dina Lohan
Earlier this year, Lohan was brought in to serve a 90-day sentence resulting from lying to the cops about last year’s car accident. She was given the choice to do her time in jail or rehab, and chose rehab.
Paul Reubens – indecent exposure
“Pee-wee’s Playhouse” star Paul Reubens turned a Sarasota, Fla. adult theater into his own personal playhouse back in 1991.
While visiting his parents during a hiatus from the show, Reubens decided to enjoy “Catalina Five-O Tiger Shark,” “Nurse Nancy,” and “Turn Up the Heat” at the South Trail Cinema.
Only problem? So did some Sarasota County detectives, who arrested three other men the same night. They didn’t recognize Reubens, who had a goatee and long hair at the time, until after the arrest when he told them, “I’m Pee-wee Herman.”
Once a local reporter figured out the connection after seeing the county arrest report the next day, the media frenzy escalated to a fever pitch. Stories about Reubens’ arrest even eclipsed news about Jeffrey Dahmer’s unspeakable crimes (Dahmer was arrested just a few days earlier).
Pee-Wee toys were pulled from store shelves, and the Playhouse went off the air. While the entertainment industry blacklisted Reubens, his fans and the public supported him, protesting the cancellation of his show.
Reubens went into seclusion for years after the incident, emerging occasionally to do small guest roles and voiceover work. He was arrested again in 2002 for possession child pornography, but the charges were dropped.
Reubens continues to work in film and TV, with occasional guest appearances as Pee-wee Herman.