Entertainment is meant to include all kinds of drama and predicaments; those who work in the business are meant to raise the stakes and give us compelling situations for the characters to go through and learn from so that we can cheer for them all the more. Law and crime are some of the most popular themes of entertainment, partly because the situations are so relatable to real world events.
However, there are plenty of TV starts who don’t manage to contain their drama and hardships to the situations seen on screen. Regardless of the subject matter of the shows that made them famous, TV stars have found themselves in trouble with the law and even convicted of crimes.
Some of them are in the process of answering for and or paying for their crimes even today. The charges and convictions run the gamut from driving under the influence to murder.
Here are the 15 TV Stars Rotting In Jail (And The Crimes That Got Them There).
15 WILL HAYDEN - SONS OF GUNS
Sons of Guns was a firearms and weapons enthusiast reality TV show on the Discovery Channel hosted by Will Hayden, owner of Red Jacket Firearms. In 2014, Hayden was arrested on three charges of assault on two young girls.
The first assaults were perpetrated on a first victim in the early 1990s and the second assaults were on a second victim in 2013 and 2014. Both girls were between the ages of 11 and 13 at the respective times that Hayden attacked them.
Discovery cancelled Sons of Guns after Hayden was arrested in 2014. Both of his victims appeared in court to testify against him. He denied the allegations but was convicted by jury and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or probation in May 2017.
14 ABBY LEE MILLER - DANCE MOMS
Lifetime’s Dance Moms follows all the drama and feuding between the mothers of competitive young girl dance contestants-- specifically those participating in Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Company in Pittsburgh. Miller is the main attraction of the show, vindictively coaching the young contestants and throwing down with the attending mothers too.
In 2016, Miller appeared in court in Pittsburgh to answer charges of bankruptcy fraud and for bring $120,000 worth of Australian currency into the United States without reporting it.
She plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 366 days in prison, which began in May, 2017, as well as two years of probation after her sentence was complete. Miller also announced on Instagram that she would be departing Dance Moms back in March 2016.
13 RICARDO MEDINA - POWER RANGERS WILD FORCE
Ricardo Medina, who played the Red Ranger and team leader in the 2002 Power Rangers incarnation “Wild Force,” went through some dark times in January 2015.
According to the testimony in court, Medina and his roommate Joshua Sutter got into a fight in their California home over Medina’s girlfriend. Both Medina and his girlfriend retreated to his room to try and curtail the argument.
Sutter broke into Medina’s room to continue the argument and Medina killed Sutter with a sword that he kept in his room. Medina claimed self-defense in court and pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
In March 2017, the California court judge sentenced Medina to six years in prison, a reprieve from life behind bars and a conviction for murder.
12 BRANDON JONES - PRETTY LITTLE LIARS
This seems like a scandal not too farfetched for Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars. Brandon Jones plays a recurring character on the teenage clique drama named Andrew Campbell. He was a love interest of Aria Montgomery, one of the main quartet of girls on the show played by Lucy Hale. Jones also appeared on The Fosters and The Big Bang Theory.
In October 2015 and March 2016, Jones brandished a gun at his neighbor during an argument outside of their homes. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office had said that Jones could face up to five years in prison after he was arrested. Ultimately, in August 2017, he was sentenced to 180 days of jail time, 30 days of community labor, and 26 anger management courses.
11 MICHAEL JACE - THE SHIELD
Michael Jace played a cop named Julien Low on the hit FX show The Shield between 2002 and 2008. However, in June 2016 he was sentenced to 40 years in prison after a jury convicted him for the murder of his wife, April Denise Laune.
Prosecutors said that Jace resented his wife for wanting a divorce and was convinced that Laune was seeing another man. When she returned home on May 19th, 2014, he decided to end her life, reportedly in front of their sons who were ages eight and five at that time.
Jace apparently had a history of domestic violence. One witness testified to seeing Jace commit domestic violence in 1997, also reportedly in front of their own infant son.
10 JOSHUA ALLEN - SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE
Joshua Allen was the champion of So You Think You Can Dance for its 2008 fourth season on FOX. However, since then Allen has been in court several times for domestic violence.
In January 2016, he was convicted of “willfully injuring a girlfriend." Just a few months later he attempted to harm his ex-girlfriend in April. Finally, in June 2016, he attacked his ex again and chased her into a coffee shop where he got into an altercation with a man who tried to intervene.
He then threw a glass vase at a woman who tried to intervene. He was eventually subdued by other good Samaritans according to the District Attorney’s office. A judge sentenced Allen to one year in jail, five years of probation, and a year of domestic violence counseling when he gets out.
9 JEFF ZAUSCH - NAKED AND AFRAID XL
Jeff Zausch has appeared in four different reality extreme survival shows on the Discovery Channel. He appeared as a contestant on Naked and Afraid in 2014 and again with a bit more celebrity clout in Naked and Afraid XL.
However, he’s gotten himself into some decidedly mundane legal trouble after crashing his car in Idaho in February 2014. An off-duty Idaho state police officer called in the wreck and Zausch had his car towed back to his home that same day. When he called Geico to update his insurance and file his claim, authorities say Zausch told Geico that law enforcement had not responded to the accident.
In court in September 2015, Zausch pleaded guilty to submitting a false claim. He was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and was placed on probation for 3 years.
8 JEREMY LINDHOLM - TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN
Jeremy Lindholm had appeared in a few short films before appearing in an episode of the Showtime event series Twin Peaks: The Return. However, he’s gotten himself into some pretty dark real life drama too.
According to TMZ, law enforcement officers in Spokane, Washington responded to a 911 call in August 2017 from a local business. Released audio from the call and eyewitness accounts describe Lindholm chasing his girlfriend into the store with a baseball bat.
Lindholm was also allegedly threatening to kill her. When officers arrived, he tried to flee the store but ultimately surrendered in the adjacent alley.
His girlfriend was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after being transported to the hospital, but Lindholm has been charged with attempted second degree murder. He’s being held in jail on $100,000 bond.
7 SCOTT MENAGED - PROPERTY WARS
The Reality TV show Property Wars followed people who bid on foreclosed homes, but star Scott Menaged won’t be dealing in real estate again for some time. Following a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security, Menaged was arrested in May 2017.
He had been leading a handful of his furniture store employees in a conspiracy to steal identities, through which they had made a considerable amount of cash. Investigators also claimed that Menaged had embezzled $34 million from the DenSco Investment Corporation.
Menaged plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He’s agreed to pay $2.1 in restitution and could face up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing in December.
6 MARK SALLING - GLEE
UPDATE: Mark Salling took his own life on January 30, 2018.
Mark Salling has become well known for his role as Noah Puckerman on the high school performance drama Glee. Unfortunately, he was arrested in December 2015 on suspicion of possession of inappropriate child content in his Los Angeles home. Authorities found more than 54,000 images of illicit material stored on the actor’s laptop and on a flash drive.
The ensuing court proceedings had evidently disturbed Salling, who attempted to end his own life in August 2017. He had come close but panicked. His roommate found him and called 911.
Salling was hospitalized and given a psychiatric evaluation. Later on in October, he pleaded guilty to the possession charges and could face up to 7 years in prison. After his sentence is served he will be banned from several types of public family friendly establishments and required to complete a sex offender treatment program.
5 TERESA AND JOE GIUDICE - REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY
This Real Housewives of New Jersey star couple have been through some real difficult times. In March 2016 Joe Giudice began serving his 41 month sentence behind bars for bankruptcy fraud. Teresa has already served her one year sentence for her involvement in the same crimes.
Teresa is releasing a memoir titled Standing Strong which includes stories about how she’s dealing with her troubled marriage and Joe still being in prison.
“I want [our marriage] to work,” Teresa told People TV Watch earlier in October 2017. “But you know, when Joe comes home, he has to do the right thing. And then we’ll just move on from there … Obviously he’s [in prison], he has a lot of time to think … There’s a lot of guilt that he feels, and I see the change in the way he’s writing his emails and what he’s saying.”
4 APOLLO NIDA - REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA
It seems to be an ironic trend among Real Housewives stars to be arrested for crimes involving impersonation. In January 2014, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Apollo Nida was arrested on charges of identity theft.
He allegedly propped up several fake companies and opened several fake bank accounts in the names of identity theft victims and stole U.S. Treasury checks and Delta Airlines retiree checks.
Nida apparently laundered more than $2.3 million through these fake accounts. Later on in July 2014, Nida offered authorities intel on other criminal activities. This led the Georgia court judge to reduce his sentence to 8 years in prison instead of 30. Perhaps this was at the urging of his wife and Real Housewives costar Phaedra Parks, who is also a lawyer.
3 ETHAN CUTKOSKY - SHAMELESS
Showtime’s Shamesless is about the family of William H. Macey’s Frank Gallagher, a degenerate alcoholic who’s six children all live with him. While each of the kids get up to some shady antics throughout the show, Ethan Cutkosky, who plays Frank's second youngest child, Carl, has gotten into some real life trouble.
On November 7th 2017, TMZ reported that Cutkosky was arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence. Authorities have not reported if the DUI was drug or alcohol related, but TMZ updated the story to say that Cutkosky admitted that he had been smoking marijuana on the night he was arrested.
William H. Macey actually stood up for Cutkosky when TMZ caught up with him later that week. He said that Cutkosky was a good kid and that Hollywood puts a lot of pressure on young actors.
2 MIKE “THE SITUATION" SORRENTINO - JERSEY SHORE
The Situation has got a bit of a situation... again. Mike Sorrentino, who refers to himself as “The Situation,” is undoubtedly one of the most famous personalities to come out of the reality TV phenomenon Jersey Shore. He’s been in and out of rehab for drug abuse, but now he and his brother Marc are facing possible time in prison for tax evasion.
The charges include filing false tax returns, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and tax evasion. Sorrentino allegedly tried to avoid paying federal taxes on an income of over $8 million.
He’s not allowed to convey many details about the case to the general public, but he’s pleaded not guilty and told People that the charges “do not portray me accurately.” His trial is scheduled to begin next year.
1 JARED FOGLE - SUBWAY
In 2015, Jared Fogle went from memetic and famous Subway spokesperson to convicted possessor of inappropriate child content and sex offender. He was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
However, more drama has recently surfaced relating to his case. Fogle’s ex-wife Kathleen McLaughlin has submitted a lawsuit against Subway in October 2016 saying that the company knew about Fogle’s criminal behavior long before the 2015 investigation.
She is suing the Subway franchise for monetary damages, including using her and her children by Fogle in their marketing campaign while they covered up allegations of his misconduct. Subway is trying to have the suit dismissed.
Also, in January 2017 Fogle himself was assaulted by another inmate at Colorado’s Englewood FCI in Littleton. Steven Nigg, who’s is serving 15 years for a gun conviction, roughed up Fogle claiming that his fame is affording him a better life in prison than he deserves.
Are there any other TV stars that you know who are facing criminal charges or serving jail time? Let us know in the comments.
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