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California and the West

Robert Downey Jr. Arrested Again on Drug Charges

November 27, 2000|JOSH MEYER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three months after his release from state prison, actor Robert Downey Jr. was again in trouble with the law after his arrest in Palm Springs on charges of cocaine and methamphetamine possession, authorities said Sunday.

Downey, 35, was taken into custody about 9 p.m. Saturday by Palm Springs Police Department officers who went to a room in the posh Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel after receiving an anonymous 911 call about someone possessing drugs and guns.

Downey, who is appearing in a recurring role on the popular TV show "Ally McBeal," was in the room by himself and was arrested without incident, police said.

Sgt. John Booth said substances found in the room were believed to be cocaine and methamphetamine, but he did not say how much of either substance there was.

Downey was released on $15,000 bail about 6 a.m. Sunday after being charged with possession of cocaine and methamphetamine, being under the influence of a controlled substance and committing a felony while out on bail.

"What stupidity," said Palm Springs Police Officer Ralph Landry. "The judge gave him a break, and now he pulls this. . . ."

When Judge Lawrence Mira sent Downey to prison in August 1999, he said Downey was manipulative and had exhausted the court's options for drug rehabilitation. Mira sentenced the actor to three years in prison for repeatedly violating probation on the drug and weapons charges.

Downey, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in the film "Chaplin," was first arrested in June 1996 when police found him under the influence of drugs while in his pickup truck. He was rearrested two weeks later, after stumbling into a neighbor's Malibu home under the influence of drugs and passing out in a bed.

Downey ultimately pleaded no contest to charges of possession of cocaine, driving under the influence, possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

He was placed on probation, and after two violations--and an acknowledgment that he hadn't kicked his drug habit--Downey was sent to Corcoran State Prison. He was freed in August after serving a year.

Days after his release, Downey's lawyer, Robert Waters, said his client was drug-free, voluntarily attending a drug rehab program and undergoing daily counseling.

"He's in great shape," Waters told The Times. "He's been counseling other individuals while he's been in prison. . . . I think he's committed to a life of sobriety."

Downey, Waters and Downey's agents were not available for comment Sunday.

Downey was bailed out of jail by Jack Duke of Jack Duke Bail Bonds of Indio. He said the actor was picked up by a male friend "who grew up with him."

Downey "said he was very tired, that he'd been working 16, 18 days [on the television show], and that he was under a lot of pressure," Duke said. "But he was very nice, and very cooperative."

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