Celebrity doesn’t exempt those it favors from certain grim realities — brushes with the law, say. Here are some of the stars who were forced to resort to the good offices of lawyers during the year just past.
Actress Lindsay Lohan filed a lawsuit against E-Trade Financial Corp. on March 8, alleging that one of its television ads “used her name and characterization” without paying her or securing her approval. Stephanie Ovadia, Lohan’s lawyer, said the actress has the same single-name recognition — just like Oprah or Madonna — and that E-Trade violated Lohan’s rights under New York state civil-rights law. Lohan is seeking an injunction and $100 million in damages.
According to the law, U.S. citizens are required to pay taxes. According to prosecutors, Wesley Snipes hadn’t filed a tax return since 1999 and was subsequently convicted of failure to file U.S. federal income tax returns. The government called him a “truly notorious offender” in its sentencing memoradum. “In the defendant Wesley Snipes, the court is presented with a wealthy, famous, and inveterate tax scofflaw,” the document said. Snipes’ defense attorney, Daniel Meachum of Atlanta, had no comment. Snipes reported to the Federal Correctional Institution McKean in Pennsylvania on Dec. 9.
Hip-hop music promoter Luther Campbell won a legal precedent when he took a case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won the right to commercial parody. Campbell was victorious again on Dec. 12 in Miami federal court when a jury decided in his favor after a five-day trial in a copyright infringement case. Louisiana photographer Aueishua Buckner and model Leslie Henderson sued Campbell over the use of a Henderson’s image on the cover of the 2002 DVD Luke’s Freakshow, Platinum Edition, Vol. 2. “We had some amazing conversations that had nothing to do with rap, like how to make the economy work for those at the bottom of the food chain,” said his attorney, Richard Brodsky.
Charlie Sheen was hospitalized on Oct. 27 after security at New York’s Plaza Hotel called police to report he was disorderly and had broken furniture in his room. His publicist blamed an allergic reaction to medication and said the actor was discharged that evening and on his way back to Los Angeles. In August, he pleaded guilty in Aspen, Colo., to misdemeanor third-degree assault after a Christmas Day altercation with his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen. Prosecutors dropped more serious charges and he avoided jail time, instead sentenced to 30 days in a rehabilitation center, 30 days of probation and 36 hours of anger management. Sheen is represented by South Florida lawyer Yale Galanter.
Paris Hilton was arrested on Aug. 28 in Las Vegas for possession of a controlled substance. Hilton called attorney David Chesnoff, who sprung Hilton from jail within hours of her arrest and without posting bail. Hilton pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors to avoid being convicted of a felony.
Country music legend Willie Nelson avoided prison following his arrest for marijuana possession on Nov. 26 by a boarder patrol officer. Defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin questioned the lawfulness of the search and pointed out that officials searched the vehicle 100 miles from the Mexican border. “It’s supposed to be a checkpoint only for aliens, and [agents] overstep their authority all the time,” DeGuerin said. Nelson was eventually charged with misdemeanor possession of six ounces of marijuana.