(Tom Hayes, AP) A judge sentenced Michael Douglas' son to five years in prison Tuesday for dealing methamphetamine from a trendy Manhattan hotel, calling it his "last chance to make it."
Cameron Douglas - son of Michael Douglas and grandson of Kirk Douglas - is going to prison for more than four years despite the pleas of his famous family.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman announced the sentence after hearing 31-year-old Cameron Douglas ask for mercy as his Academy Award-winning father and mother, Diandra, listened behind him in a packed courtroom.
"I'd like to apologize to my family and my loved ones for putting them through this nightmare of my making," Douglas said.
The Hollywood scion and admitted heroin addict also was ordered to forfeit $300,000. A pre-sentence report listed his net worth as $500,000.
As they left federal court in Manhattan, Michael Douglas and his ex-wife had to fight through a writhing mass of photographers to reach a waiting SUV.
Michael Douglas arrives at Manhattan federal court for the sentencing of his son Cameron Douglas, Tuesday, April 20, 2010, in New York. Cameron faces a 10 year sentence after pleading guilty to drug charges.… Read more » (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
Federal agents arrested Douglas last summer at the Hotel Gansevoort in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. Prosecutors alleged that he was the middleman in a scheme to smuggle large amounts of meth from California to New York, sometimes using overnight mail.
Early in a sentencing hearing that stretched more than an hour, the judge described how Douglas had abused drugs since age 13 and noted that he had been sober in prison since last August, his longest drug-free stint since his teenage years.
He noted that he had read at least 37 letters of support from family — including his film legend grandfather, Kirk, stepmother Catherine Zeta-Jones and NBA executive Pat Riley — friends and supporters who "believe he has finally bottomed out in terms of his addiction and may be ready to turn his life around."
But Berman also expressed doubt Douglas would turn his back on drugs after pleading guilty in January to conspiracy to distribute drugs.
"In my estimation, that will be a very difficult chore," he said. "I think this case and this sentencing may well be his last chance to make it."
The conspiracy charge carried a mandatory 10 years in prison, but the judge said the government had agreed that Douglas qualified for a lesser sentence. It had been revealed at a pretrial hearing that Douglas had tried to cooperate.
The defense had requested that Douglas be sentenced to time served or, at most, 3 1/2 years in prison.
When given a chance to speak, Douglas said he was blind to the opportunities to overcome his addiction earlier in life.
"As a result, I squandered a lot of them," he said. "If I should be so fortunate as to have another chance, I will never squander that opportunity."
He said he felt the full support of his family for the first time in his life and missed "so dearly being involved in my true passion in life ... which is being an entertainer, putting a smile on people's faces."
Douglas in recent years had landed minor film roles, including one in 2003's "It Runs in the Family," starring his father and grandfather.
Prior to the sentencing, his father cited in a handwritten letter Cameron's childhood in a "bad marriage" and "the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father."
WeN2K Commentary Many people feel that the "mandatory" 10-year sentence was appropriate for Douglas. The Internet is abuzz with people saying that had Cameron been a young minority from the inner city - he would have gotten significantly more time. Did the fact that Cameron's father is Michael Douglas (with an estimated fortune between $150 Million and $200 Million...and coming from a family considered to be Hollywood royalty)...play in the reduced sentence Cameron received? Probably. It helps to have money if you get tied-up in the legal system...probably in ANY country. But it is important to remember that Cameron ALSO cooperated with the authorities by giving up (snitching on) other people in his criminal organization.
Many of us realize that money talks. But did it talk TOO much in this case (along with fame)? What do you think?