- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2001

INDIO, Calif. Robert Downey Jr. pleaded no contest today to two cocaine-related charges in a plea bargain that will keep the actor out of jail.

Under the deal, Downey was sentenced to one year in a live-in drug rehabilitation program and three years of probation. He will have to pay a series of fines and was ordered to comply with a set of regulations including random drug testing.

The Oscar-nominated star of the film “Chaplin'' pleaded no contest to one count of possessing cocaine and one count of being under the influence. A third charge was dropped.

Superior Court Judge Randall White explained the terms of the deal and warned Downey he could go to prison for up to four years if he violated the terms of the deal.

Asked if he understood the terms, Downey replied: “I'm well aware, your honor.''

Downey, 36, was arrested at Merv Griffin's Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs during last year's Thanksgiving weekend. Authorities allegedly found the drugs in his hotel room after receiving an anonymous call.

The deal was struck under Proposition 36, which California voters approved last year. It removes the threat of prison for drug offenders unless they are charged three more times with drug violations or repeatedly fail to cooperate in treatment programs.

“This is not a gift of the court. This is going to be hard work,'' White told Downey.


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