When you're rich and famous, you can buy just about anything; even someone to go to jail for you. Celebrities are notorious for using hangers-on to take all sorts of raps, from drug possession to more serious business. In this feature, we'll spotlight ten ordinary Joes who got railroaded into prison by famous friends, only to be left holding the bag. These are ten unlucky fall guys who got sold out.
Athletes command a good deal of respect in our society; whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up for discussion. Some superfans will do anything for their heroes, even go to jail for them. Greg Anderson was a personal trainer who was alleged to have provided steroids to Barry Bonds and other Giants players starting in 1998. When the Grand Jury decided to prosecute Bonds for perjury in 2006 related to his steroid usage, Anderson was called in to testify. Instead, he refused to say anything and was sent to jail for contempt of court, all to protect Barry Bonds. He eventually was released (and Bonds was found guilty), but it was quite a gesture.
When you’re just getting started in the rap game, one of the most important things you can do is join up with a more established rapper. That’s what Belizean rapper Shyne thought he was doing when he signed to Bad Boy Entertainment and started palling around with Sean Combs, the hip-hop mogul better known as Diddy. However, an incident at a New York nightclub that left three people injured derailed everything. During the trial, Shyne adhered to the “code of silence” and kept his mouth shut about Diddy’s possible involvement. He was rewarded with ten years in prison.
Brian Keith Jones
Here’s another tale of a rapper caught in serious trouble and the patsy who bailed him out. In October of 2012, hip-hop star Nelly’s tour bus was pulled over in Sierra Blanca, Texas, and searched. Cops found a staggering amount of illegal stuff on board, including 36 bags of heroin and over 10 pounds of marijuana. Oh, and a loaded .45 caliber pistol without a license. Nice. Nelly’s crew had things well in hand, though, as longtime bodyguard Brian Keith Jones “confessed” to the cops that all of the swag was his. He was promptly booked and Nelly went on to say he had “no idea” that there was ten pounds of weed on his tour bus.
When you go out with your more famous friends, you have to expect that you’ll turn into the patsy if the law comes down on you. When four members of the Indiana Pacers were involved in a shooting outside of a Indianapolis strip club in 2006 (nobody was hurt, but a car took some lead), it’s not surprising that the cops took an interest in the situation. Things got even worse for the players – Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels, Jimmie Hunter and Stephen Jackson – when the cops discovered that they had a bag of weed in their car. Up steps Ramel Mattox, the one member of the entourage not on the Pacers, to not only take the blame for the drugs, but also for starting the fight in the first place. How convenient!
Here's an interesting case where no crime was committed, but a fall guy got thrown under the bus just the same. John Edwards looked like a pretty solid pick for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008; the charismatic North Carolina Senator polled strong and said all the right things. And then the news dropped that Edwards may have been cheating on his wife (who had breast cancer) with filmmaker Rielle Hunter. Political operative Andrew Young took a bullet for Edwards, claiming that Hunter's new baby was his, not the senator's. That still didn't save the campaign, though, and a DNA test proved that Edwards fathered the kid.
Damion D-Roc Butler
When bullets start flying between hip-hop entourages, you’re almost guaranteed to find a fall guy who takes the rap. In 2001, Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim had words outside the offices of New York radio station Hot 97, and shots were fired. Witness testimony wasn’t helpful, but somebody needed to take the heat. That somebody was producer Damion “D-Roc” Butler, who had come up with Kim and the Junior Mafia crew. He spent eight years in jail for the shooting before getting released in 2009. The Biggie Smalls biography “Notorious” also includes a scene where Butler tries to take the fall on a gun charge to keep Biggie out of the big house. Interestingly enough, D-Roc is now working to get his own back by allegedly ransoming off a sex tape between Diddy and female protégé Cassie. Good luck with that, man.
You don’t have to be a guy to be a fall guy. In 2010, hotel heiress and general scumbag Paris Hilton got busted in South Africa when cops with drug-sniffing dogs found a bunch of a potent local weed called “dagga” in her purse. The concept of Paris carrying drugs isn’t surprising to anybody, but getting thrown in South African jail is a little different than going to prison in Beverly Hills. So Paris turned to a member of her entourage, former Playboy model Jennifer Rovero, who told the cops it was hers and paid the price for it.
Sean E. Sean
Let’s travel back in time a bit to tell a tale of a fall guy who took a prison bid before his friend was even famous. After Tracy Morrow, the rapper who would be known as Ice-T, left the army, he briefly tried to go straight before resuming a life of crime. Cops busted a friend of his, Sean E. Sean, in possession of some stolen material that they knew Tracy had nicked. Sean could have lightened his sentence by fingering his friend, but instead took the rap for the future superstar, spending two years in jail. He was later referenced on a few of Ice’s songs.
Mannon Lee Zellner, Jr.
Here’s another case of an athlete turning to a fall guy to bail him out of a sticky situation. When Dallas Cowboys defensive end Peppi Zellner was pulled over in his native Georgia, the cops noticed that a bag of something went flying out the window. That bag turned out to be full of heroin, and naturally they took both men in. This could certainly have been the end of Zellner’s pro football career, but interestingly enough the other man in the car was his brother, Mannon Lee Zellner, Jr., who convinced the cops that the horse was his, so Peppi could continue to play.
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And let’s close this list with a tragic tale of a fall guy who gave his life for his celebrity friend. Rapper Cassidy was involved in a shooting in Philadelphia that saw a man named Desmond Hawkins killed. The word on the street was that Hawkins was Cassidy’s weed carrier – the member of a hip-hop star’s entourage that handles contraband. Unfortunately, after the police busted Hawkins, Cassidy didn’t make good on promises to bail him out, which caused some beef, which led to the shooting. In a final insult, Cassidy didn’t even catch a murder rap for his death, getting off with manslaughter.