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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NEWS | CULVER CITY

Actor Works Off Sentence as Janitor

Jan Michael Vincent's assignment will let him trim about a month from his 60-day O.C. stint for public drunkenness and assault.

October 11, 2000|GINA PICCALO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Actor Jan Michael Vincent, who was once one of the highest-paid stars on television, is now serving time at the Culver City Police Department--as a janitor.

The only inmate to do his time by swabbing up, Vincent is performing the menial tasks to trim about a month from his sentence for several alcohol-related convictions.

Vincent, 56, of Santa Monica, was sentenced last month to 60 days in Orange County Jail after admitting that he violated his probation this year by appearing drunk in public three times near his home and by assaulting his then-girlfriend.

An Orange County judge granted him permission to serve his time in any city jail, provided that--after his release--he re-enroll in a rehabilitation program and check in routinely with a probation officer for 2 1/2 years, Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Hernandez said.

The actor's duties in Culver City include emptying trash cans, mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms and parking lots, as well as serving meals to other inmates.

He wears a custodial uniform and "there's nothing to distinguish him from the other janitors in the police station," Culver City spokeswoman Randi Joseph said.

Vincent, known for his starring role in the 1978 cult surfing film "Big Wednesday" and for the "Airwolf" television series of the 1980s, was transferred Sept. 29 from a live-in Santa Monica treatment center to the Culver City jail.

He is serving his time in a special room with a door instead of bars, a television and a shower. Vincent was denied his request to bring in a satellite television, Joseph said. Most cells have bars and include only a sink and toilet.

After completing his sentence, the actor will return to the treatment program until a probation officer approves his release. Vincent's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Vincent has been on probation since 1996 for drunk driving and public drunkenness convictions stemming from incidents in Coto de Caza, where he lived.

Although Vincent is trusted to walk the 10,000-square-foot Culver City police station and surrounding parking lots, he must be in his room each night by 6 p.m.

The room is locked from 10 p.m. to about 5:30 a.m., when Vincent is scheduled to begin work.

He is permitted supervised use of a jail pay phone and is allowed visits from his family and his attorney for two hours Saturdays and Sundays.

If an inmate fails to adhere to the cleaning schedule or lacks enthusiasm in his work, Culver City Lt. Tom Gabor said, "We send them right back to county [jail]."

So far Vincent has been on task.

"He's very quiet," Joseph said. "He's doing the work he's assigned, and that's it. He's not terribly communicative."

The Culver City program is much easier on inmates than the Orange and Los Angeles county jails, where people convicted of traffic violations and public drunkenness are housed with violent felons, Gabor said.

In fact, he said, celebrities convicted of minor crimes are "thrilled" to win a janitorial spot in the Culver City program because it is such a friendly and stress-free environment. It's also a good deal for the city, because "it provides us with free prisoner labor," Gabor said.

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