13 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Went To Jail

In January of 1980, Paul McCartney was arrested at customs in the Tokyo airport for attempting to smuggle a half pound of marijuana into the country. McCartney was one of the biggest rock stars in the world — but he was still breaking the law. As a result of his nine-day prison sentence, McCartney had to cancel 11 Wings concerts and pay 1 million British pounds in compensation as a result. That said, if Paul McCartney weren’t a Beatle, an offense of this magnitude could have resulted in seven years hard labor.
Being a celebrity got McCartney off the hook, more or less. But fame generally doesn’t matter much in the face of the law.
For a variety of reasons, these celebrities have spent significant time in prison. Some went to prison before their careers took off. Others, much like Judy King in Orange Is the New Blackwere already famous. Between shifts in the kitchen at a California state prison, for example, Robert Downey Jr. regularly spoke to a Vanity Fair reporter for a profile.
In honor of tomorrow’s premiere of season 5 of Orange is the New Black, here’s a roundup of celebrities you didn’t know went to jail.
Bill Cosby
On September 25, 2018, Bill Cosby was found guilty on three counts of felony sexual assault and sentenced to three to ten years in prison. Cosby will serve his sentence in the Montgomery County Courthouse outside of Philadelphia.
This is a significant moment in the#MeToo movement. Cosby is the first celebrity to be tried and convicted of sexual assault since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were released in October 2017.
Lauryn Hill
In 2016, Hill was convicted of failing to pay $1 million in taxes over the course of a decade, and was sentenced to three months in prison. Hill didn’t waste any time getting back to her career. The night before she was released, Hill dropped the single “Consumerism,” a song condemning corporate greed
Martha Stewart
At the age of 63, Stewart was convicted of insider trading — essentially, Stewart sold a company’s stock based on information not yet available to the public. As a result of her selling ImClone stock just before its price plunged, Stewart spent five months at the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia.
Danny Trejo
This on-screen tough guy has quite a history. He was first arrested at the age of 15, and by the time he was 23, he wassentenced to San Quentin for selling heroin to an undercover cop. Between the years of 1961 to 1972, he spent time in California’s Folsom, Soledad, and San Quentin state prisons.
How did Trejo go from incarceration to an acting career with over 300 credits? Trejo can pinpoint his life’s turning point. In 1968, he and some friends started a prison riot, and Trejo severely injured a guard. Trejo was convinced he would be handed the death penalty, given his prior records. But since there wasn’t a witness to the crime, Trejo was sent to solitary instead. A year later, Trejo was released from prison and got clean.


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