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Downey Jr.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. handcuffed by L.A.County Sheriff's Dept.
Violation of parole on a prior drug conviction,12/8/97.

Downey Downed by Law
by Marcus Errico
August 5, 1999

Robert Downey Jr. is fresh out of second chances.

The sobriety-challenged actor was sentenced this morning to three years' hard time in a California state prison for violating his 1996 drug probation. It was the maximum penalty Downey could have received.

Appearing in a Malibu courtroom in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit, the onetime Oscar nominee (for Chaplin) got a stern lecture from Judge Lawrence Mira, the jurist who has presided over many a Downey digression in the past and who levied Downey's original three-year probation sentence in 1996.

Mira said he has given the hard-living actor too many opportunities to kick his seemingly unshakable drug habit--Downey has made seven trips to rehab since his surreal string of arrests three years ago. The judge said instead of making a good-faith effort to reform, the Less Than Zero star has repeatedly "manipulated" doctors and psychiatrists appointed to help him.

With credit for time served in rehab, Downey can expect to spend about a year behind bars.

Previously, the actor spent 113 days in a Los Angeles lockup for an earlier probation violation. Despite those comparatively cushy climes, Downey didn't fare so well, spending time in the infirmary after getting busted up in a jailhouse brawl.

His troubles trace back to June 1996, after a traffic stop turned up cocaine, heroin and a loaded pistol in his car. A month later, the intoxicated actor was found passed out on a child's bed in a neighbor's house. Three days later, he was busted for leaving a recovery center.

Downey, 34, who admitted in June that he fell off the wagon, and has spent the past month in lock-down rehab, was taken away after today's sentencing by sheriff's deputies.

"It's like I've got a shotgun in my mouth and my finger on the trigger," he said on his way out, "and I like the taste of gunmetal."

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