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'Fame' Actor Gets 28-Month Sentence for Driving Drunk

June 14, 1989|CARLOS V. LOZANO | Times Staff Writer

A co-star in the former television series "Fame" was sentenced Tuesday to 28 months in prison for felony drunk driving stemming from an accident in which a Studio City man and his two sons were seriously injured.

Kenneth C. Swofford, 55, who played a high school principal in the show that aired in syndication until 1987, pleaded no contest to drunk driving charges at a previous hearing in Van Nuys Superior Court.

George Charous, 37, suffered a fractured spine and a broken leg in the Dec. 17 crash at Ventura Boulevard and Eureka Avenue in Studio City. Paul Charous, 11, suffered skull fractures and his brother, Stephen, 6, had a broken leg.

Swofford was driving west on Ventura Boulevard when his car swerved into oncoming traffic and hit Charous' car head-on.

Before imposing sentence, Judge Richard G. Kolostian noted that the actor had no history of arrests or convictions. "You're not a bad person," Kolostian said to Swofford. "Other than this accident, you could be man of the year."

Probation Denied

Kolostian, however, said he was going to deny Swofford probation because unless "a first-time drunk driver is sentenced to jail time, we won't have any effect on drunk drivers."

Swofford did not show any emotion when Kolostian pronounced sentence moments later. In addition to the 28 months he must serve, Swofford was ordered to pay $9,600 restitution to the victims.

Swofford appeared on the verge of tears as he hugged family members outside the courtroom afterward. Both the actor and his attorney, Herb Steinberg, declined comment.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Pargament said he was pleased with the judge's decision.

"It was a good sentence," Pargament said, adding that Swofford could have received up to four years in prison. "It was well-thought out and well-balanced. The judge gave due consideration to the seriousness of the injuries--not to one, but to three people--and picked a middle ground."

George Charous, who attended the proceeding, said he also was "very satisfied" with the outcome. Charous said his sons have recovered from their injuries, but that he still attends physical therapy sessions twice a week.

He said a civil suit that he filed against Swofford in Van Nuys Superior Court is pending, but declined further comment.

Swofford, who is free on $2,500 bail, was ordered to begin serving his sentence June 27.

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