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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Jail time for cult actor Chong
Tommy Chong leaving court
Chong had pleaded for a community order sentence
Actor Tommy Chong, of the cult Cheech and Chong movies, has been sentenced to nine months in jail for selling drug paraphernalia over the internet.

He was also fined $20,000 (12,500) for conspiring to distribute marijuana pipes and other equipment.

Chong, 65, admitted having a marijuana problem, but said he was overcoming it through hobbies such as salsa dancing.

He pleaded for leniency from the judge in Pittsburgh, saying he was not the pot smoking character of his films.

Prosecutors said Chong began a business in 2001 called Nice Dreams - named after a Cheech and Chong film - which made $1.6m (1m) before it was raided by the FBI.

In May, Chong pleaded guilty to supplying pipes, bongs and other paraphernalia.

'Marketing power'

Federal authorities in Pittsburgh have convicted 22 other national drug-paraphernalia distributors since 2000 under Operation Pipe Dreams.

"[Chong] wasn't the biggest supplier. He was a relatively new player," US attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said. "But he had the ability to market products like no other."

The judge ordered Chong to forfeit $103,000 (64,700) in sales proceeds and abandon his website domain names.

Although sentenced to nine months in jail, Chong will remain free until told which prison to report to, which is likely to be near his California home.

Drug education

During his sentencing hearing, he told the court that he was not like the characters he played in the movies he starred in with Cheech Marin.

He also said he now tried to educate children against the dangers of drugs, and had embraced the world of salsa dancing.

Chong made his name alongside Marin in a series of drug-related movies in which they usually played stoned characters, including Up in Smoke and Still Smokin'.

The were in recently in talks to make a new film, their first since 1984, deciding the time was right for another Cheech and Chong movie as their cult status ensured they had a new generation of fans.


SEE ALSO:
Cheech and Chong 'plot comeback'
23 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Cult actor admits drug charge
14 May 03  |  Entertainment


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